Bran Black interview with Laura Jayes, AM Agenda, Sky News

02 February 2024

Event: Bran Black interview with Laura Jayes, AM Agenda, Sky News
Speakers: Laura Jayes, Host, AM Agenda; Bran Black, Chief Executive, Business Council of Australia
Topics: Industrial relations; casual employment; Closing Loopholes Bill amendments


Laura Jayes, Host, AM Agenda: Bran, first of all, let's get back to IR because this is going to be certainly one of the big focus when our parliament does resume, what are you hoping for in terms of concessions from the Government?

Bran Black, Chief Executive, Business Council of Australia: Well Laura, firstly, thanks so much for having me on the show, we've been very clear in terms of our opposition to the suite of changes that are moving through the house right from the start. And it's very clear from a whole of business group perspective, that this is not a suite of reforms that can be supported. But what we have sought to do is shave off what I've described as the sharper edges of the Bill in our engagement with the crossbench over the course of the last few weeks and months. And what we've seen overnight with the report that's come out from the committee is a series of sensible proposals that have been put forward, as I say they don't make the Bill good. But what they do is make it a tad more acceptable, and therefore capable of being implemented by business. As I say, it doesn't make the Bill, a Bill that we could support though.

Laura: But casuals, I mean, that seems to be a big concession from the Government that casuals would be able to negotiate?

Bran: What we've seen, and certainly what came through with the report overnight, is that there have been a number of really sensible suggestions that have been put forward that we'll continue to advocate for. In the first instance, we've been concerned about proposed to change to the definition of casuals, taking it from something that's pretty simple and easy to understand, and turning it into a complicated 12 part, three-page test. We've also been concerned about the multiple conversion pathways, which just makes it very difficult for employers to understand how they go about applying the right test in order to convert a casual from casual to permanent employment. And then beyond that, there is also a residual concern that we have about the removal of what's called a reasonable grounds test which means that employers can say, look, I'm very sorry but I'm not in a position to transfer your employment from casual to permanent. I might be a seasonal operator, a small business by a seaside town, I operate on that basis and I just can't guarantee the employment over the winter months. Fortunately, what the crossbench has done and what we hope the Government will listen to, is indicate that they're open to look at those changes that we need to see, certainly in terms of the definition, in terms of the conversion, and of course, in terms of that reasonable grounds.

Laura: We will see, just before I let you go, does the BCA have a position on Labor's changed stage three tax cuts?

Bran: Yes, what we would say is that we've always advocated for the stage three tax cuts, we think that they are a good way of doing a few things. First, they simplify the tax system and that's an important thing to do. Once you've got a simplified tax system, people understand their rights and their obligations. It also means that they've got an incentive to try and aspire to a higher income. And they know that if they're able to secure that higher income, what that means is that they're proportionately going to take home the same rate of pay. And then of course there's that bracket creep issue, we start to return some of the money that we've seen lost to taxpayers as a consequence of bracket creep. So, we've always thought the stage three tax cuts should proceed.

Laura: Bran Black, thanks so much for your time. $23 billion in fact in bracket creep, that's what the Government is going to get in extra revenue, according to their own figures. Thanks so much for your time.


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