The industrial relations amendment bill introduced by the Morrison Government today contains measured, incremental improvements to Australia’s employment laws that will encourage businesses to invest and create jobs in the post-COVID-19 economic environment.

Australian Resources and Energy Group CEO, Steve Knott AM, said key areas of the IR reform bill address longstanding concerns and priority reforms for mining, oil and gas, and service sector employers.

“Improvements to enterprise bargaining, greenfields agreements and certainty around casual employment, are areas of huge value to Australia’s resources and energy employers,” Mr Knott said.

“While the enterprise bargaining changes are modest and mostly administrative in nature, they do address a number of process issues that have led to significant delays and frustrations in getting enterprise agreements approved within a reasonable timeframe.

“Allowing greenfields agreements for major resources and energy projects to run for up to eight years to match their typically longer construction timeframes, is a common-sense reform that will help Australia secure the enormous national opportunities within its major project investment pipeline.

“It is pleasing the government has acted on the advice of senior executives from AMMA member companies, who stepped forward to highlight the significance this relatively simple change will have on influencing final investment decisions for multi-billion-dollar, nation-building projects.

“The government has also struck an appropriate balance with its proposals for casual employment. Casual employees will have new rights to convert to permanency after 12 months with an employer, whilst businesses will be protected from ‘double dipping’ backpay claims which, if left unaddressed, would leave up to $39 billion in contingent liability looming over the economy.

“Collectively these measures will reduce employment-related red tape and risk for resources and energy employers, which have been the lifeblood of the national economy and labour market during an extraordinarily difficult year for all Australians.”

AMMA was heavily involved in the Morrison Government’s tripartite IR Working Groups informing this legislation and urges the Federal Opposition and the trade union movement to consider the national interest when forming their response to the Omnibus Bill.

“The fact is these proposed amendments do not take away any rights from working people, as is so often lazily claimed. They also include policies lobbied for by the union movement, such as casual conversion rights and more severe penalties for wage underpayments,” Mr Knott said.

“In the recovery from the COVID-19 recession, Australian workplaces need more flexibilities and businesses need less red tape, more confidence and as much certainty as government can deliver.

“AMMA congratulates the Morrison Government for introducing a package of measured, balanced industrial relations changes. They should be supported by all and passed into law as soon as possible to give Australian employers and employees the best chance of rebounding from the COVID-19 recession.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Brad Thompson, 0409 781 580