New laws but not more contractors, says Andrews

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New laws but not more contractors, says Andrews

The Federal Government does not expect an increase in the number of contractors after its contentious contractors legislation passes through Parliament.

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The Federal Government does not expect an increase in the number of contractors after its contentious contractors legislation passes through Parliament.

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews told a press conference yesterday that 'as a result of independent contracting legislation there won't be, I believe, any change in the number of independent contractors'.

Andrews said the thrust of the bill currently before Parliament is that 'if a person is operating as an independent contractor then they won't be able to be deemed an employee as State Governments around Australia have been doing'.

The statement caused Opposition IR spokesman Stephen Smith to comment: 'It begs the question then doesn't it - why did the Minister introduce these laws in the first place?'

Does anyone want it?

'Does anyone actually want this Bill?' he asked.

'Private contractors and small businesses aren't interested, Andrews' own party room isn't happy with the changes, and the Labor Party is in no doubt about how much these laws will hurt ordinary working Australians.

'Just like the Government's extreme industrial relations legislation, these laws override State-based employee deeming provisions and unfair contracts legislation there for the protection, not just for employees, but for small business and contractors.

'Labor supports Australians who genuinely want to start their own business, but these laws won't help them and Kevin Andrews knows it.'

No 'sham' contractors

However Andrews said if workers were not genuine independent contractors 'there are provisions in the legislation against sham arrangements, and if a person's not an independent contractor then they remain an employee'.

Andrews said the South Australian Government a year or so ago decided 'quite unilaterally to deem a group of people who operate as contractors to be employees, and then drag them back into the State industrial relations system - that's the mischief this legislation is about'.

Asked whether this was to protect workers so they still get their full entitlements as employees, Andrews said: 'Well, people can choose, and the common law tests in relation to who is an employee and who is an independent contractor continue to prevail.'

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