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Labor’s New IR Solution Leaves Workers Worse Off

The Australian Labor Party’s new industrial relations policies will leave Australia’s workers worse off; Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry has said.

“Labor’s IR policy is a potential $20 billion tax on business.

“Labor’s plan to give casual workers and independent contractors paid leave entitlements – and allowing them to transfer them from job-to-job is not only a job-killing tax on business, but will drive up costs of goods and services.

“Labor can’t even say what its own policy will cost but the Attorney-General’s Department has costed what Labor is promising. There are 3.3 million casuals and independent contractors in the workforce.  Providing them annual leave, sick leave and long service leave WILL cost $20.3 billion every year.

“Will casual workers lose their 25 per cent loading in return for getting paid leave under their policy? That would mean a massive pay cut for casual workers – on average of $153 per week or almost $8,000 a year.

“Labor’s solution to ‘insecure work’ is cutting the pay of hard-working casuals right across the workforce,” Ms Landry said.

Ms Landry said the Morrison Government’s reforms before Parliament right now include stronger penalties against wage theft and, for the first time, criminal penalties for wage theft – but Labor won’t back them.

“Why else would the Labor Party refuse to support – or even negotiate – on the Government’s proposed IR reforms which would:

  • give casual workers greater opportunity to shift to permanent work with their employer – if they choose to;
  • give part-time workers greater opportunity to work extra hours – if they choose to;
  • give all workers greater protection from wage underpayments and wage theft with stronger penalties and, for the first time, criminal penalties for wage theft;
  • give workers greater opportunity to benefit from the higher wages that flow from a better system to reinvigorate the system to achieve enterprise agreements.

“And in a speech focused on casual work, neither Mr Albanese nor Senator Watt offer any pathway from casual to permanent – but our Bill does.

Ms Landry said more than 120 hours of meetings were held over three months with key union and employer groups who demonstrated an enormous amount of good will throughout the process.

“Those discussions have now concluded and the government is working to synthesise the many options put on the table into what will be an IR reform legislative package. The details of individual reforms are still being worked through.

“They will need to be pragmatic, appropriately balanced and realistic in scope, given the current make-up of the Australian Senate that any legislative options will need to pass through.”

Ms Landry said Labor have appointed Senator Murray Watt as the first-ever Shadow Minister for Queensland Resources but he won’t advocate for a single coal project in Queensland.

“You only need to look at his record. He voted against the funding for a feasibility study for a coal-fired power station in Collinsville. His own senate colleague Anthony Chisholm has told Palaszczuk to approve New Acland, but Senator Watt stays silent.

“The only reason why they have appointed the Senator from the Gold Coast into this role is so they can say one thing in Queensland and another in southern states. Labor continue to treat Central Queenslanders like mugs.”

Ms Landry also expressed her surprise over unions in Rockhampton welcoming Senator Watt to Rockhampton when he assisted in the selling off the Aurizon workshops, leaving hundreds of locals out of a job.

“Senator Watt was then-Premier Bligh’s chief of staff and righthand man in 2008, a year before she announced plans to sell off QR.

“He has previously stated he does not recall being personally involved in the decision. This is a strange admission as he was Premier Bligh’s chief of staff. Was he off sick on the day they made the decision, or did he simply shut his ears when they discussed it around him?

“His previous statement is even more confusing when it is reported he seconded the motion in supporting the sale of assets at the 2009 Annual State Conference of the Australian Labor Party – Queensland Branch.

“Senator Watt has serious questions to answer on his involvement in selling off rail assets in Rockhampton, but he has stayed silent on that as well,” Ms Landry said.

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