Thursday, 10 December 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Birmingham. In this morning's Australian Financial Review,in an article entitled 'Porter retreats in union brawl', it is reported that the Morrison government may amend or even dump provisions of its industrial relations bill. Is the government persisting with its attempt to cut the take-home pay of Australian working families?
That is absolutely not the intent or the purpose—nor will it be the result—of the government's reforms. As I have said time and time again in this place, the government is implementing these reforms to create the best environment for jobs and employment growth to continue strongly in this country. We've seen some 80 per cent of jobs that were lost or had reduced hours due to the pandemic regained to date. That shows there's still work to do in other ways. We also know from the cooperation that occurred during the pandemic that there are opportunities for efficiencies and improvements to occur in our industrial relations environment and workplace relations space. That's what these changes seek to do. They seek to ensure that we get practical improvements to the way in which the workplace relations system works.
In terms of those practical improvements we expect to see real gains for businesses and employees. Without business success there is no employment success. That is a key point that is fundamental to everything about job creation in this country—without business success there is no job success. So we have to make sure our businesses are successful. Our investments, be they in infrastructure, skills or tax reforms and incentives, are all about creating the environment for jobs growth. These reforms are about creating the environment for jobs growth as well. These reforms will create more jobs so that any worker ultimately wanting a job will be better off as a result of them.
Senator Stoker said in her first speech:
Industrial relations reform is something our nation desperately needs and which the conservative side of politics should promote.
Does Senator Stoker support the retreat floated in this morning's papers?
Of course, Senator Stoker gave a fine first speech, as I recall. I again congratulate her on it, and on many fine contributions since. In terms of those arguing for these types of reforms, why don't those opposite listen to small business? The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia have said very clearly that the types of reforms we are proposing are about managing your business and everything else in the agreement so that you can survive. If you're a worker you'd rather have a job, and small business are of course committed to trying to create those jobs, and we are committed to delivering those jobs. It says it all that those opposite, in their scare campaign, have already resorted to anonymous newspaper stories and not even bothered to look at the legislation, the details and the fact that they are sensible, measured reforms. (Time expired)
Mr Jason Falinski, Mr Tim Wilson and Senator Bragg have advocated for greater industrial relations flexibility, jointly authoring an op-ed and lobbying within the coalition. Do coalition backbenchers support the retreat by the Morrison government flagged in this morning's papers?
It's hard sometimes to follow the strategy of those opposite. Indeed, the Australian people have found it hard in recent elections to follow the strategy of those opposite. The first series of questions from those opposite I was asked today seemed to suggest that the reforms are too harsh, and now Senator Gallacher has based all his questions on whether we've backed down and the reforms aren't harsh enough or something. These reforms are sensible, thoughtful reforms based on extensive, lengthy consultation.
I don't know whether there is a split over there, whether Senator Gallacher is actually arguing there are further reforms that ought to be in this package or not. But I can assure him and every other senator and every Australian that these reforms are the result of hours upon hours of work and consultation between the government, the union movement and businesses in seeking to find sensible approaches to create a more secure employment environment. (Time expired)