House debates

Wednesday, 24 May 2023


Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Bill 2023; Consideration in Detail

4:15 pm

Photo of Andrew LeighAndrew Leigh (Fenner, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury) Share this | Hansard source

The government will not be supporting the opposition's amendment. The Labor Party is indeed a party which has a long history of standing up for workers' rights, but it is beneath the opposition member to somehow suggest that members on this side of the House are beholden to trade unions. We engage with the community sector, business groups and community groups. The Liberal Party of Australia once used to believe that unions had a role to play in public life, but it has sadly eroded to the point where its main aim seems to be to drive unions out of existence even as the union membership share falls to just below one in eight employees.

To go to the specifics of the amendment, the amendment is unnecessary and will defeat the purpose of the legislative changes, which is to allow authorisations to remain in place when the amount of an authorised deduction changes, not only when it decreases. Requiring employers to seek new authorisations when the amount of an authorised deduction increases would not decrease the current administrative burden on employees. The schedule 5 provisions are permissive rather than mandatory. Employers can still choose to offer deductions only for fixed amounts or even not to make salary deductions at all. Employees will still be able to authorise deductions for a specific amount only. Employees who do choose to authorise deductions will have protections provided by the government's amendment as well as the general law, such as consumer protection laws.


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