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Labor and Greens Penalty Rates Bills would remove the independence of the independent umpire

"The Bills introduced into Parliament today by Labor and The Greens, to overturn the Fair Work Commission's Penalty Rates Decision, would remove much of the independence of the independent umpire, and should be decisively rejected by Parliament. What is the point in having an independent umpire if the umpire is only able to rule in favour of one of the parties?" Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

"Under the Labor and Greens Bills, the Fair Work Commission would not be able to vary an award in any manner that is likely to reduce the take home pay of any employee, regardless of the circumstances or merits of the award variation. The laws would operate retrospectively to 22 February 2017 to, in effect, overturn the Commission's Penalty Rates Decision.

"Such laws make a mockery of the notion of having an independent tribunal to maintain awards.

"The Penalty Rates Decision was made by a five Member Full Bench of the independent Fair Work Commission, headed by Justice Iain Ross, the President of the Commission. For over 100 years, the Commission and its predecessors have been responsible for setting and adjusting penalty rates in awards.

"The arguments in support of Parliament having a greater role in setting penalty rates do not stand the most cursory of scrutiny. Too often decisions of political parties are not evidence-based but, rather, driven by political factors. The Full Bench of the Commission made its Penalty Rates Decision on the evidence and it is essential that the Decision is not disturbed," Mr Willox said.

Media Enquiries: Tony Melville: 0419 190 347