The Morrison government insists its review of Australia’s workplace laws will make the economy stronger, amid scepticism from Labor and unions.
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter is reviewing a range of industrial relations laws, with the six-to-nine-month process to include the definition of casual employment.
Bosses are pushing for changes, including to unfair dismissal rules, while also throwing support behind a government bill making it easier to de-register unions and disqualify officials.
But Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the government should instead focus on getting wages moving.
“What economists are saying is missing in our industrial relations system at the moment is wage increases,” he told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.
Unions, meanwhile, believe the government should be addressing the issue of insecure work, after new Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed more than one million Australians want more hours.
“It’s an indication of a larger imbalance between the power of employers and workers,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus said.
Both Labor and unions are also worried the review will undermine workers’ rights by making it easier to de-register unions.
“They’re actively undermining the freedom of organised labour and that’s an important principle in a democracy,” Mr Albanese said.
But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has stressed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s key criteria for any changes in industrial relations include protecting the entitlements of workers.
The review will ultimately be good for the whole economy, he argues.
“Our focus, as a government, is what steps can we take to continue to strengthen the Australian economy and in doing so, what steps can we take to encourage businesses … to employ more people and to continue to see more jobs being created,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
The bill concerning unions was introduced to parliament in 2017 but suffered a blow last year when the coalition couldn’t rally enough support among the Senate crossbench.