The Business Council of Australia has welcomed planned changes to the workplace relations system detailed today by the federal government.
BCA President Mr Hugh Morgan said the changes would provide greater flexibility for employers and employees, remove barriers to job creation and simplify an unnecessarily complex system.
“We believe workplace reform is a key element in maintaining the economic growth which underpins Australia’s enviable standard of living,” Mr Morgan said.
“It’s been 10 years since the last major overhaul of workplace relations and the world has moved on.
“In today’s global economy we must stay competitive or we risk falling behind. If we fall behind, the consequences are dire: fewer jobs, reduced living standards, poorer services.
“Over the past year, our productivity has fallen by 1.4 percent, our worst performance for 18 years.
“The proposed reforms continue the move toward greater workplace flexibility and productivity, the importance of which has been recognised and acted upon by both Coalition and Labor governments over the past 20 years.”
The BCA particularly welcomed moves toward a national system of workplace relations. It hoped that states would now take constructive approach so that a national system could be achieved through a referral of powers.
The duplication across the state and federal systems and different rules in each jurisdiction increase the costs, complexity and uncertainties for business.
These costs are reflected in lower productivity and profitability and fewer jobs than would otherwise be the case.
The benefits of a national system have been recognised for decades but little progress has been made.
The BCA also welcomed the proposed changes simplifying the making of agreements, both collective and individual. This would reduce the administrative burden for business, but importantly provide a sound basis for strengthening agreement making at the enterprise level with their employees.
The proposed Fair Pay Commission, new flexibilities in employment arrangements such as greater opportunities for part time employment, and improvements to the apprenticeship system would all contribute to increased participation.
“The Business Council believes that these changes, along with the reforms to taxation, infrastructure and regulation that we have advocated, can sustain prosperity,” Mr Morgan said.
In supporting further workplace reform, the BCA and its Member companies – which collectively employ nearly 1 million Australians and account for 20 per cent of the nation’s economic activity – aim to sustain high levels of job creation, flexible workforces that support high productivity, and reward employees in line with these outcomes.