Flawed IR reforms pose threat to WA businesses

Despite more than 80 amendments to the Federal Government’s Closing Loopholes Bill, they are still a deeply flawed set of reforms, says CCIWA. 

Serious uncertainties remain about the Bill’s overall impact on WA’s mining sector and the broader economy. 

“The Government has effectively admitted the Bill is deeply flawed,” CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell says. 

Labour hire a major concern, say Members 

CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell (right) with Chief Economist Aaron Morey (centre) and Workplace Relations Director Ryan Martin addressing the Senate Committee hearing in Perth

In its leading role in the national debate, CCIWA presented its case to a Senate Committee hearing in Perth last month, releasing the startling results of a survey of more than 700 small and family businesses in WA. 

Changes to labour hire emerged as a significant area of concern for WA businesses. 

Two out of three businesses (66%) surveyed say the changes to labour hire laws would be “extremely damaging” (26%) or “damaging” (40%). 

Around half (49%) of those surveyed say they would reduce staff levels in response, while 27% report it would reduce their ability to tender for new projects, and 23% said they would have to scale down their business. 

Rodwell says the Bill is riddled with hazards.  

“Many issues remain unaddressed, and the impact will cut right across our economy and affect businesses of all sizes,” he says. 

“While there’s rightly a focus on the bigger mining companies who will be impacted by some of the remaining aspects of the Bill, it’s crucial we don’t lose sight of the smaller employers and those in the health and community sector who are already struggling with ever-increasing costs.” 

Back to the drawing board 

The Government originally wanted the legislation passed this year. However, the Senate has pushed it back until at least February with crossbench senators concerned about the Bill’s complexity. A bid to split off four non-controversial elements has been rejected. 

The proposed reforms include requirements that labour hire workers be paid the same as equivalent permanent employees who are covered by an enterprise agreement, minimum standards for gig workers, changes to transport pricing, new rights for some casuals to ask to be converted to permanent jobs, increased union rights, and the criminalisation of wage theft. 

Rodwell says the Government should “start again” with its proposed workplace law changes. 

“Coupled with the significant role the mining sector plays in our economy and the reliance of many smaller businesses on the resources industry, CCIWA continues to call on the Government to pull this Bill from the parliament and start again,” he says. 

“CCIWA will continue to advocate for those businesses and in the best interests of the WA economy.” 

Are you concerned about the Federal Government’s IR reforms? Register for our free webinar on December 14 to hear an update on the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023 from Ryan Martin, our Associate Director of HR and Workplace Relations. Register here. 

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