IR secrecy slammed

Article by Katina Curtis courtesy of the West Australian.

Employer groups have accused the Government of hiding from scrutiny with a plan to ram through dozens of changes to the controversial industrial relations laws this week.

Crossbenchers, led by Independent Allegra Spender, are also concerned about having enough time to consider the amendments.

The changes are expected to reflect the deals Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke has struck with gig economy platforms including Uber, the Australian Hotels Association over casuals, and the Australian Resources and Energy Employer Association to carve out services contractors from a labour hire crackdown, along with at least one more compromise yet to be made public.

They will be revealed in full on Tuesday, after Cabinet and caucus have ticked off on them.

Eleven major employer groups — none of which have struck compromises over the laws — issued a joint statement accusing the Government of seeking to avoid proper scrutiny.

“These changes will affect every business and every worker, and rushing amendments without proper consultation will do nothing more than tinker at the edges of the 800 pages of legislation,” the statement says.

“Unfortunately, we, Australia’s leading employer groups, believe the Government is unwilling to listen to any views which they do not agree with.”

The reported changes did not allay the “significant fears” held by signatories the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Energy Producers, the Australian Industry Group, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, Master Builders Australia, the Minerals Council of Australia, the National Farmers Federation, the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association, the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association, and the Australian Retailers Association.

Mr Burke last week took aim at the Minerals Council for opposing the deal struck over labour hire without having seen the amendments, saying it would never agree to the legislation because council member BHP “uses the labour hire loophole in a very significant way”.

The Government expects the legislation to pass the Lower House this week. Mr Burke said he was determined to get wages moving again.

Ms Spender said she was worried about being able to properly consider the extent of the changes . “IR legislation is notoriously technical,” she told The West.