Comment from Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group, at a Joint Press Conference (Thursday 31 August) with industry association peak organisations regarding the proposed third tranche of workplace relations legislation which is to be introduced to the Parliament on Monday 4 September.

“There is nothing in what the Government has proposed today or put into legislation from next week that would create a job; that would provide any job security; that would encourage any Australian to start a small business; that would encourage any employer to hire more people.  There is nothing in what has been proposed that reduces the complexity of the 1200 page Fair Work Act.  It only increases it. 

“There has been no mention of how this legislation would address our productivity problems.  The problems that the Government concedes, from the Prime Minister and Treasurer down, are a huge handbrake on our economic growth and potential.  It was portrayed today as if these were simple easy solutions to long term problems.  If they were simple and easy why didn’t we think of them years ago?  Why weren’t they implemented?

“The reason is that these are actually inherently radical proposals that have been put forward that change the scope of people being employed as a casual, people being employed under labour hire, people being employed in the longer term. 

“Employers have made it clear through the consultation process that we have engaged in, that if what is proposed is implemented it will lead to increased cost, increased complexity, less employment and unfortunately the laying off of thousands of people across the economy over time. 

“They (businesses) have given consideration to this. It just becomes all too hard for them to employ staff.  This becomes a lawyer’s picnic. Everything now becomes contestable in the Fair Work Commission. 

“Employers are under the hammer already around costs, around the competitive nature that they face internationally, higher energy costs, the threat of blackouts.  And now they are being told that running their business, large or small, is just going to become more costly, more complex, more difficult. It does nothing to make their life easier, to hire people, to engage good people, to bring people on.

“I will give you one example.  I was talking to an employer last week who employs 70 casuals, who are university students, to help them to try and get a start in their life.  Casuals who are engaged in that business that is heavily related to the course they are doing.  From what he knows of these proposals, he has made it very clear that he is going to have to lay them all off because he has no certainty around what the future looks like for him or for them.

"I will just say to the workers of Australia, you now face more insecure work as a result of this not less."

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