ALP Policy an Important First Step but Much More Needed

The BCA acknowledges changes to the ALP’s workplace relations policy are an important first step in recognising the needs of a flexible workplace relations system for a modern economy.

Nevertheless, there remain significant shortfalls in both the policy and practical implications of the ALP’s announcement.

BCA President, Mr Michael Chaney, said business welcomed Labor’s willingness to announce important details of its policy as part of an ongoing dialogue with business on its workplace relations policy.

Mr Chaney said: “It is pleasing to see aspects of the policy that directly meet specific business concerns, including maintaining restrictions on union right of entry to workplaces and the outlawing of secondary boycotts.

“But overall the practical result of the ALP’s policy including these changes will be a two-tiered workplace relations system that will reduce the scope for flexibility, choice and incentive for the vast majority of employees.

“In turn, it is inevitable these added measures will create unnecessary complexity, confusion and increased costs for all businesses, large and small.

“In particular, despite recognising the need for flexibility in the workplace, only applying this to those earning more than $100,000 a year will, in effect, only benefit around 10 per cent of the Australian workforce.

“That means about 90 per cent of Australian workers will remain subject to a major reversal of reforms to workplace relations that have played a significant part in higher wages, productivity and jobs growth over the past 20 years,”

Mr Chaney said from a policy perspective, the fundamental issue remained that despite misinformation to the contrary, the current workplace arrangements were the preferred system for a modern, competitive economy to deliver continued prosperity and growth.

“The proposed changes to the policy show a willingness to understand and respond to business concerns,’ Mr Chaney said.

“But the changes demonstrate the difficulties and unintended consequences of trying to retain some elements of the current system, while winding back many of its core features.”