WA businesses provide qualified support to IR compromise

Chris Rodwell

CCIWA CEO

By increasing flexibility, clarity and certainty with respect to industrial relations, the Federal Government’s omnibus bill would, on balance, strengthen WA businesses and enable more Western Australians to get jobs.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) is supportive of the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 as a workable compromise.

CCIWA was a participant in the government’s reform roundtables, playing an instrumental role in pursuing greenfields agreement reform. This will particularly benefit WA by better sustaining the long-term project investment critical to tens of thousands of WA jobs in our mining and petroleum sectors.

Without the ability to establish terms and conditions of employment for the life of a project, Australia’s IR system currently poses a risk and disincentive to invest. Our international reputation as a safe investment destination is undermined when major projects like Gorgon, Curtis Island and Ichthys LNG can be disrupted by mid-project industrial disputes. The establishment of greenfield agreements for up to 8 years will help alleviate risk to large mining and petroleum projects, a sector which now comprises 43 per cent of WA’s economy.

CCIWA also supports changes to casual employment, which provide a resolution to WA’s exposure to up to $4.7 billion in double-pay claims, and create a clear pathway into permanent work for those who choose it.

However the Bill imposes new risks and penalties for businesses. This includes criminalising non-compliance with Australia’s complicated awards system, automatic termination of longstanding employment arrangements and restrictions on when expired agreements can be brought to an end.

In securing much needed IR reform, circumstances require that all participants remain focused on the economic crisis Australian businesses face, with the risk of further disruption ahead. In this spirit, the Chamber movement has participated extensively in all the IR roundtables which produced this Bill. The Bill represents a compromise between union, government and business priorities, and will better enable WA businesses to recover, rather than merely rebound.

CCIWA is working closely with the WA business community, providing resources to help our members understand the mixed measures in the Bill. Australian businesses urge members of Parliament to support these measures, which will make it easier for businesses to protect and create jobs, and work to return to prosperity.

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