• Media Release

IR legislation is the most extreme, interventionist workplace change ever proposed in Australia

The Albanese Government’s latest industrial relations legislation changes are some of the most extreme, interventionist workplace changes that have ever been proposed in Australia.

The changes will inflict immense harm to the economy, the weight of which will fall on the shoulders of the most vulnerable Australians who will pay more for groceries, housing, and energy.

The MCA calls on the Albanese Government to rip up this bill and head back to the drawing board.

At a time when we need government policy to bolster economic growth, to encourage productivity and investment, and spur job creation, Australia’s most productive businesses face unprecedented upheaval that will restrain ambition, limit innovation, and chase investment overseas.

As a result of these proposed changes to industrial relations law, doing business in Australia will get substantially harder. For many small businesses, this new catalogue of imposts and reams of additional complexity will be too much to bear.

For Australian mining, this excessive burden and workforce rigidity will put the industry’s ability to deliver the full economic and social benefit from the emerging clean energy mining boom, under serious threat.

The Australian economy is heading into uncharted waters, with global competition heightening, China’s long-run economic growth beginning to ease, and the battle for ascendancy in the clean energy transition heating up. And it does so against the backdrop of subdued economic growth, stubbornly high inflation, rising unemployment and an aging population that will put ongoing stress on government budgets and the funding of vital services.

The nation’s ongoing prosperity is under assault.

So why now would it be wise to place even greater restraints on the Australian economy? Why would it be prudent, at this very time, to increase the burden on Australia’s productive workplaces and threaten investment and job creation?

This is bad policy made even worse by its terrible timing.

This workplace overhaul will only compound the significant pressures on Australians who are struggling to pay their household bills, struggling to buy a home, or struggling to find work, putting upward pressure on the cost of living, the cost of materials, and the cost of doing business.

The government says these changes are about closing loopholes, when in fact they will tie businesses in knots. The government says it wants to build a ramp for workers, but all it is doing is ramping up costs.

The government’s repeated suggestion that the so-called Same Job, Same Pay legislation is focussed on ‘limited circumstances’ and targeted solely at labour hire firms, is at best disingenuous, and at worst completely misleading.

The legislation has broad application, touches every sector of the economy, and threatens to rope in thousands of contracting businesses who merely provide services to other companies, not labour.

It also locks in a reverse onus of proof, capturing all contracting businesses and forcing them to litigate their way out, at their own cost in time, resources and funds.

While the direct cost implications for businesses are stark, the additional complexity being introduced by the government threatens to drown companies in red tape, legal considerations and a merry-go-round of compliance.

It is legislating confusion.

But there is a hidden motive here that needs further examination and exposure.

This is not about ‘closing loopholes’, as the government suggests. It is about dramatically increasing the power, reach and access of unions in Australian businesses, small and large.

There can be no overstating the intention here. This ultimately is a generous payback from the government to the unions for decades of faithful service, support and funding.

It is clear the government will seek to legislate the ultimate ideal for unions, at the expense of workers, businesses and the wider economy.