IR reforms will boost Australia, employers tell Senate


IR reforms will boost Australia, employers tell Senate

A leading employer organisation has called on the Senate to pass the Federal Government’s IR legislation ‘in the national interest’.


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A leading employer organisation has called on the Senate to pass the Federal Government’s IR legislation ‘in the national interest’.

ACCI submission

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) in its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the legislation cited 54 Australian and international economic studies/commentaries ‘supporting workplace reform of precisely the character now under consideration’. 

ACCI told the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Committee inquiry that the WorkChoices workplace relations reforms ‘represent a long overdue reform to Australian workplace relations which will yield more job opportunities, rising living standards, higher wages and more job security.'  

ACCI told the Senate the 10 Key Points Supporting the WorkChoices Bill were: 

1. Our economy needs this reform: Australia has a partially reformed Workplace Relations system. Whilst we have made some important reforms, too much of it is a product of the horse and buggy era. This is having a real impact on Australia - productivity has stalled, unemployment may have bottomed out, we face skills shortages and an ageing population and we need to take the next step if our economy is to continue to perform as well as it has since the mid 1990s.

2. There is economic evidence in support of reform: There is a significant and irrefutable body of economic evidence supporting the economic, productivity and jobs benefits of workplace relations reform, including evidence directly supporting the benefits of the reforms in WorkChoices from organisations such as the OECD and IMF. ACCI cites 54 Australian and International economic studies / commentaries supporting workplace reform of precisely the character now under consideration. 

3. Reform now is the right course: It is in precisely the current economic climate that Australia must pursue workplace reform. Reform designed to continue and further spread positive economic performance stands far greater chance of success than waiting, and having to implement overdue reforms in a panic, in times of economic adversity. 

4. Reform makes economic downturn less likely: It is wrong to suggest that the re-emergence of economic adversity is a given over which Australia has no control. Reforms such those in WorkChoices will help to avoid economic downturn, and ensure that Australia rides out cyclical or internationalised economic adversity with the most possible Australians remaining in work and the least impact on our economy and society. 

5. Enterprise-based bargaining is not new: Legislation can never present the complete picture of how employment works in any system. The labour market, along with the commercial and human resource lessons learned by employers over the past 20-30 years, will ensure WorkChoices does not lead to some of the adverse outcomes being forecast from some quarters. Market imperatives and the priorities of employers and employees will ensure that bargaining away terms and conditions of employment is not commonplace as some are predicting. This is not a theory. It is the way employment already operates in contemporary Australia. 

6. Minimum wages will not go down under WorkChoices: Supported by an absolute guarantee of existing award wages, the Fair Pay Commission will review wages impartially and rigorously. ACCI can see no basis to forecast that the Fair Pay Commission will come up with any particular outcomes prior to commencing its work during 2006. Reform to date has led to higher pay than under the former centralised award approaches administered by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. 

7. Awards will remain the default model of employment: Awards will be retained under WorkChoices, and will remain the default model of employment unless employers and employees agree to some other approach. Awards will retain the vast majority of their existing provisions, and in essence will continue to be the instruments we are familiar with. 

8. Employees will gain new entitlements from WorkChoices: To claim that WorkChoices all works one way would be dead wrong. There are new protections for employees which extend the obligations of some employers.    

9. Employers will be protected from coercion: It is patently untrue to claim that employees will be coerced into signing workplace agreements under WorkChoices. Protections will be retained and enforced by enhanced advisory and enforcement bodies. 

10. WorkChoices isn’t perfect, but it’s the right step: In all, WorkChoices represents a major advancement of Australian workplace relations – across all the areas of the proposed reforms.


Summary of impact of IR changes on employers 

Federal IR changes 2005 - collection


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