Industrial relations overhaul an "enormous threat" to the cost of living
Joint media release with
Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations
Senator Dean Smith
Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury
26 September 2023
Lower productivity and higher costs for both businesses and consumers can be expected if Labor’s radical industrial relations laws are pursued.
Representatives from the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) told the Cost of Living Committee that the Albanese Government’s proposed industrial relations overhaul would further exacerbate the cost of living crisis.
The CEO of the COSBOA said that under the proposed laws, labour costs, which make up around 40% of input costs for small businesses, would increase, and ultimately force businesses to pass those costs on to the consumer.
This was echoed in evidence provided by the CEO of the MCA, who said the proposed legislation would “ramp up the cost of running a business, which is either then absorbed or passed on to the consumers.”
Responding to questions about the Government’s White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities, the CEO of the COSBOA said that the proposed industrial relations “run roughshod over many of the aspirations and goals of the Employment White Paper. It really is that simple.”
Both the MCA and COSBOA noted that the proposed industrial relations laws would negatively impact productivity, which was essential to ensuring wages would increase sustainably.
When asked about the impact this legislation will have on the living standards of Australians, the CEO of the MCA noted “if you have lower productivity, then you will definitely see lower living standards for the next generation, and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
These views were supported by Professor Robertson of the University of Western Australia, who told the Committee that flexibility was needed in the labour market to increase productivity.
Chair of the Committee, Senator Jane Hume said it beggars belief why in the middle of a cost of living crisis, Labor was pursuing an industrial relations agenda that would be to make life more difficult for Australian households and businesses.
“It is the responsibility of government to improve the standard of living for the people they represent but it seems that Labor’s proposed IR changes will only take Australians backwards.”
Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Senator Michaelia Cash said it was very clear from the evidence given today that the Government’s radical industrial laws would make a bad situation worse.
“All businesses, small, medium and large are saying the same thing but this Government just will not listen to them,’’ she said.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Dean Smith said the suggestion aspects of the competition protection regime could be suspended was concerning.
“We know that maintaining Australia’s high living standards depends on a combination of competition and productivity growth - and anything that challenges either poses an unacceptable risk to our future prosperity,” Senator Smith said.