House debates

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Matters of Public Importance

Workplace Relations

4:11 pm

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

The fact is that Labor and its union financiers should be ashamed of their misinformation campaign against meaningful IR reforms that have been developed with some of the most intensive and inclusive consultation in recent years. The Attorney-General's industrial relations working groups brought together business, industry and union representatives to work collaboratively and in good faith to understand the needs of businesses and workers and to help Australia recover from the global COVID pandemic. Much of our industrial relations system has been built on pitting one group against another in the past. However, the working groups aim to change that status quo, to achieve more by working together. These groups worked, negotiated, debated and delivered the industrial relations reform which will go before the Senate committee. It is an absolute betrayal of that good faith to see those opposite not only so heavily backtrack on agreed reforms but also support an aggressive misinformation campaign by the ACTU. As Australia recovers from this global pandemic, as unemployment drops and as our economy gets back on track, it is somewhat disappointing to see Labor start in 2021 where it left off in 2020: misleading Australians.

The Morrison government's industrial relations reforms aim to put the interests of Australian workers ahead of traditional ideological positions. What a shame those opposite failed to reciprocate. Labor has its head stuck in an ideological rear view mirror. It claims to be on the side of workers but clearly it is not. Those opposite are not on the side of employees who want stronger protections against wage underpayment. They are not on the side of casual workers who want to convert to permanent employment. They are not on the side of part-time retail and hospitality workers who want more hours and can't get them. They are not on the side of employees and employers who want to negotiate higher wages and productivity gains more quickly through a better enterprising bargaining process.

The fact is Labor is not on the side of economic recovery, of jobs, of lower unemployment and of wage growth. After good faith working groups, it is in bad faith that Labor is not doing what all Australians' best interests are during COVID, which is working cooperatively to save lives and livelihoods. As per usual, Labor seems more focused on appeasing unions by running unbelievable untruths about what are very modest and much needed reforms. We will not let Labor's misinformation campaign stop us from delivering a commonsense package of reforms with one goal: to help protect and create more jobs as we move out of the COVID pandemic. We will not let Labor's misinformation campaign stop us from helping casual workers convert to permanent employment. We will not let it stop us from providing mechanisms to address the decline in enterprise bargaining, a key driver of higher wages. And we will not let it stop us from providing part-time workers with the ability to increase their hours.

The fact is that the Morrison government's IR reforms will make it easier for businesses to create better paid and more secure jobs for Australians. It will help people to grow their careers and support families as they get back on their feet and aspire to start their family, buy a house, book a holiday or even start planning their retirement.


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