"The latest round of industrial relations changes passed by the senate today are a further handbrake on productivity that will add more complexity, conflict and rigidity to our workplaces and increase job insecurity for many Australians," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

"In an economy facing persistent inflation, rising unemployment, record business closures, rising costs and global uncertainty, these laws are the last thing we need to navigate uncertain times.
"In many cases, what has been proposed are solutions for problems that do not exist.
"Together with other business groups, we have worked hard over the past nine months to wind back some of the original excesses proposed by unions, the Government and other political players.
"We recognise the efforts of many of the cross-bench MPs in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to act on industry concerns and push back against proposals that were simply unworkable, unnecessarily restrictive or would be egregiously damaging to both employers and employees.
"In this regard, the efforts of senators David Pocock and Jacqui Lambie, who both sat on the Senate committee examining the Government’s original proposals, should be particularly recognised.
"There has been some success in winding back the worst elements of initial proposals in some key areas, including plans to much more heavily restrict casual employment, to provide wider powers to unions to enter workplaces, and to provide an even heavier handed approach to the regulation of the dynamic gig sector. 
"That said, what has been passed by Parliament remains in various respects problematic and deeply concerning for Australia’s future economic vitality. The amendments secured by the cross-bench are important but can't overcome the fundamental deficiencies in legislation that has been crafted with far too little care for the damage and difficulty that it will cause to Australian Industry. 
"Costs and regulation of employment will increase, certainty of long-term employment for many Australians, including our young and most vulnerable, will decrease and tremendous uncertainty has been created by handing over interpretations of hundreds of pages of new regulations to the Fair Work Commission and the courts.

"Not a single additional job will be created by the workplace relations changes. They will not make workplaces more harmonious, give workers more job security, sustainably put extra money in workers' pockets, make businesses more secure and productive or in any way support workplace innovation or skills development. Instead, they will undermine these objectives.

"Looking to the future, certainty around contracting arrangements and casual employment have been upended.
"The so called 'right to disconnect' laws are impractical and will simply add unwarranted conflict and uncertainty into our workplaces. There are already provisions in the Fair Work Act and awards that regulate the extent to which employees can be unreasonably required to work outside normal hours. These changes were unfortunately added into the mix at the last moment, without being properly thought through, with a view to securing the Greens' support for the passage of the rest of the legislation.
"It is also difficult to properly convey the alarm that will be felt in industry over the adoption of the Greens' unfair proposal to changes to the rules around resolution of 'intractable bargaining disputes' to essentially prohibit the Fair Work Commission from resolving a bargaining dispute by deciding that a term in an agreement should be changed in a way that is less beneficial than the current provision. The problem isn’t just that the changes will render proceedings before the Commission unfair, they will colour the way bargaining unfolds in practice. There will be little incentive for unions to genuinely compromise with employers when the system is so skewed in their favour. 
"The Government's all too eager adoption of the Greens' changes to bargaining is a critical mistake that will undermine the efficacy of our bargaining system for years to come. Ultimately, far too many businesses will now simply give up on trying to obtain any form of productivity improvement through enterprise bargaining in the future. In many sectors it will mean employers will be stuck with unworkable agreement terms negotiated in very different times. They will have no ability to modernise their agreement to reflect changed working arrangements given they will be held hostage to obtaining union agreement to improvements and with no incentive for unions to be reasonable. The changes are a big step backwards. 
"The changes permitting the Fair Work Commission to set minimum rates of pay for contractors in the road transport industry obviously amount to the implementation of TWU demands to resurrect the widely condemned Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, albeit with a different name. That body had to be urgently abolished after it set minimum rates for owner drivers that were so high it was set to destroy their livelihoods by pricing them out of work overnight. Sadly, there is a predictable risk that we will see a repeat of such a devastating mistake. 
"More broadly, regulations only tabled in Parliament today giving the Fair Work Commission – a body that has only ever regulated employment conditions – sweeping powers to intervene in complex commercial arrangements between road transport businesses and the broader supply chain is a risky regulatory experiment that has the potential to impact virtually every part of the economy. It is frankly outrageous that such a dramatic measure was introduced at the last minute and without any genuine attempt to permit it to be subject to proper scrutiny by industry. 
"What also needs to be appreciated is the cumulative impact of the broad array of avenues that the Government has now created through this legislation and earlier tranches for unions to drag employers into what will be costly and time consuming Fair Work Commission proceedings in order to argue over matters that parties should be encouraged to resolve at the workplace level.
"The changes to be introduced through this legislation are, overall, neither desirable nor necessary. They incorporate further radical reregulation of the workplace relations system. There is nothing modest about them, as union leaders have claimed. Instead, they further deliver on a long-held wish list of unions who are increasingly out of touch with the dynamics of a modern economy and the needs of an evolving workforce.
"We will now work with employers and the relevant authorities over the coming months to try to minimise the disruption and uncertainty that this legislation will create. Crucially, we will continue to press the Government to remain open to making sensible amendments to the legislation in order to address what we fear will be entirely foreseeable difficulties flowing from its implementation," Mr Willox said.

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