Tim Reed opening remarks to the Senate, Education and Employment Legislation Committee

03 October 2023

Event: Tim Reed opening remarks to the Senate, Education and Employment Legislation Committee
Speaker: Tim Reed, president of the Business Council of Australia
Topics: Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023

**Check against delivery**

Thank you Senator and yes thank you for the endurance of the three of you that are still here.

Thanks for the opportunity to appear here, this is critical legislation and we're happy to present. 

Let me start by saying that the Business Council of Australia wants Australians to have safe, high-paying, sustainable jobs that reward people for their hard work, skills and experience.  

Australian workers deserve a workplace relations system that helps them earn more and gives them access to new opportunities, and which enables businesses to innovate and to create new jobs.

Last month’s Employment White Paper identified the Government’s vision for a labour market in which everyone has access to secure, fairly paid work, and where people, businesses and communities can be beneficiaries of change. 

It also set out five objectives to contribute to delivering the Government’s vision and noted that ‘real wages growth depends on productivity growth, a dynamic and competitive labour market and effective wage setting institutions’.

Let me be clear: none of this is achievable if the Government proceeds with what we see as the most radical and regressive changes to workplace relations in decades through its Fair Work Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill.

The Bill proposes significant changes with respect to casual employment, the gig-economy, the road transport industry, independent contracting and labour hire arrangements and union rights. It will impact every sector of the Australian economy, including every business that employs a casual or contract worker.

As we detailed in our submission to this committee, the Bill will:

  1. make the law less certain, and increase workplace complexity and scope for disputation;
  2. reduce productivity, competitiveness, innovation and job security, and thereby make Australia a less desirable place to do business;
  3. reduce the take home pay for workers and restrict their capacity to choose their own employment arrangements; and
  4. further increase the cost of living pressures. 

In short, it will take Australia in the wrong direction and compound the challenges most Australians face everyday with rising prices and lowering standards of living.

This Bill is the wrong step at the wrong time.  

The Business Council considers that our collective focus must be on creating genuine opportunities for Australian workers, reducing impediments to doing business and driving new investment, and supporting productivity.

The Business Council therefore urges the government to go back to the drawing board - to properly define the problems it is trying to solve, clearly identify the outcomes it is working towards and provide evidence justifying any proposals. 

It is critical that any proposed changes then be subject to thorough and independent cost-benefit analysis, especially in light of the deficiencies in the Government’s Regulatory Impact Statement, and wide public consultation.  

Finally, the Business Council supports the position of Senator Pocock, here this evening, and Senator Lambie in separating a number of positive measures from the Bill and to bring them forward for urgent consideration. 

Thank you Senator, we're happy to take any questions.


Latest news