Submission to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee Inquiry into the Fair Work Bill 2008

The Rudd Government has an electoral mandate for changes to the existing workplace relations system. In the lead-up to the 2007 federal election, it spelled out how it proposed to effect these major changes.

Since gaining office, the government has undertaken an extensive consultation process with stakeholder groups, including business, as it has developed the current draft legislation and other instruments.

It has also been consistent in its use of pre-election commitments as the key reference point for determining decisions on points of ambiguity or subject to differing views. Both approaches have been welcomed by the BCA.

Given that the Bill has been completely re-written, it does not have the complexities that arise from amended legislation. Its simplified structure is also welcome, although we have not been able to assess the effects of the interplay of the National Employment Standards (NES), the modern awards, this Bill and the anticipated regulations.

The BCA strongly supports the need for a seamless economy for business regulation in Australia. Consistent with this stance, the BCA welcomes the continued national approach to industrial relations contained within the Fair Work Bill and the award modernisation process, strongly supports the continued evolution to a national system, and urges states to refer their IR powers to the Commonwealth.  

However, it is important to step back and to review the system as a whole, to the extent possible, in terms of its likely impact on the economic prospects for Australia.

This submission reviews the draft legislation against policies on workplace relations previously published by the BCA. It also incorporates feedback from BCA members about their expectations of the impact of the legislation.

Submission to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee Inquiry into the Fair Work Bill 2008