Abbott government must speed up workplace reform: AiG head

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Abbott government must speed up workplace reform: AiG head

The window of opportunity for workplace reform before the next election is starting to narrow, according to the Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, and the Abbott government has made disappointingly slow progress on reforms expected by its business supporters.

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The window of opportunity for workplace reform before the next election is starting to narrow, according to Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox, and the Abbott government has made disappointingly slow progress on reforms expected by its business supporters.

Willox was speaking at the Australian Labour and Employment Relations Association 2014 National Conference  at the Gold Coast.

He told the conference his members considered  “Australia has become a high cost, low productivity country” and were seeking to invest overseas instead of locally. He urged the government to take action on a number of the reforms it promised before the last election in order to boost productivity.

Pass legislation already before Parliament


In particular he urged the government to pass the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014, the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Bill 2014 and the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013, all currently before Parliament.

According to Willox, as the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 remains unpassed, its effect is the new Building and Construction Industry (Fair and Lawful Building Sites) Code 2014 (which applies to enterprise agreements of employers seeking Commonwealth Government building work) is not yet legally binding.
“Unnecessary disputation” with unions over these agreements has resulted.

Amend bargaining laws


Willox also called on the government to draft legislation to implement the Coalition’s pre-election policy to amend the bargaining laws in the Fair Work Act to promote productivity improvements.

He also called for the government to immediately implement the promised Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act, so that its recommendations would not be released too close to the next election and “rational public debate” affected.

Drop paid parental leave scheme


Willlox’ further advice to the government included dropping its paid parental leave scheme and retaining the existing scheme, and redirecting any additional public money into childcare assistance.

He finished by urging the government to repeal amendments made by the previous government to the modern awards objective in section 134 of the Fair Work Act so that the Fair Work Commission could review penalty rates next year in the fast food and retail awards.
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