The Business Council welcomes the opportunity to respond to the request for consultation on workplace relation measures being considered for introduction in the second half of 2023 released by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) (Consultation Paper).
The BCA stands for productive, inclusive, flexible, and diverse workplaces that create high-wage, high-productivity jobs and a more diverse economy. The Australian labour market remains close to full employment. However, until recently the rise in real wage growth has been low, because productivity growth has also been low.
The challenge facing both government and the private sector now is to ensure that the rate of unemployment remains low while productivity increases in the face of global economic headwinds. This will in turn enable sustainable wages growth as the Productivity Commission has demonstrated that 80 per cent of all wages growth has been driven by labour productivity.
Reform to the workplace relations system must therefore be based on the following principles to enable wages to increase sustainably: people are fully employed, businesses are growing and becoming more productive and we are transitioning the economy for the industries of the future in a decarbonised world.
We are concerned that the consultation for the second tranche of reforms appears to again be based on a series of targeted questions with very broad topics at a conceptual level with no overall framework. We note that more detailed material on measures 2-7 is expected to be published in coming weeks.
We urge DEWR to include sufficient detail in that material to allow interested parties to provide informed feedback on the proposed measures and also afford sufficient time for close consideration.
To enable constructive consultation and comprehensive responses it is important that:
- the problem which is being sought to be rectified is clearly defined
- the existence of the problem is confirmed by evidence and data, not just anecdotes
- the proposed reform is clearly articulated and detailed
- a thorough assessment has been made into any unintended consequences and there is clear evidence that the proposed solution will address the problem identified, and
- an analysis has been undertaken and explanation provided on how each element of these reforms will interact with each other.
This has not yet been provided. However, in the meantime, we have provided some preliminary comments on some of the measures in the government’s consultation paper for consideration.