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Productive and Fair Workplace Relations – Ai Group Pre-Election Statement

Ahead of the coming Federal Election Ai Group is releasing a series of policy papers on issues of importance to business and the community, with recommendations we urge all parties to support. This policy statement addresses the flexible workplace relations arrangements that are fundamental to the improved productivity so important to Australia's national competitiveness.

In the report, Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox says:

"The flexibilities in Australia's current workplace relations system, compared with the previous highly centralised arrangements, have been pivotal to Australia's economic and social success over the past 25 years, and are central to our future success.

"Australia needs to maintain a workplace relations system that:

  • Enables businesses to operate productively and competitively;
  • Is flexible for businesses and employees; and
  • Is fair for employees and employers.

"Australia's current workplace relations system operates on some key principles which have served the nation very well and must not be diluted, including:

  • Enterprise agreements – The ACTU's demands for industry bargaining must not be entertained. The idea of giving unions the right to take lawful industrial action across entire industries, as the ACTU wants, is so obviously against the national interest that all political parties need to come out and decisively reject the idea;
  • A safety net of awards and legislated minimum conditions;
  • An independent umpire – it is essential that the Fair Work Commission is able to carry out its role in adjusting minimum wages and maintaining awards in a fair and impartial manner. There would be no point in having an independent umpire if the umpire was prevented by legislation from making a decision that benefited one of the parties or was required to make decisions based on unbalanced criteria in the Act; and
  • Strong and effective regulators – The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) are each playing a critical role in ensuring that employers, registered organisations, employees and others comply with the law.

"Maintaining or imposing workplace relations barriers adversely impacts employers and employees. Employees are of course among those worst affected when their employers decide to close plants, relocate, downsize or offshore because the operating environment in Australia imposes too many inflexibilities and other hurdles," Mr Willox said.

The full pre-election document, Productive and Fair Workplace Relations, is available at this link

Our Pre-Election Statement on Building Dynamic Competitive Industries, released yesterday, is available at this link.

Our Pre-Election Statement on Energy and Climate Policy, released on Tuesday, is available at this link.

Media enquiries:
Tony Melville – 0419 190 347