The cost of living problems being borne by Australian consumers will worsen if the ongoing industrial dispute on the waterfront is left to continue without intervention.
Australia’s largest and most representative business network said the warning of severe economic repercussions issued by DP World, resulting from the ongoing industrial dispute with the Maritime Union of Australia, demonstrated the urgent need for government attention.
“Economic modelling from DP World indicates that the cost of the MUA’s industrial action is an astounding $84 million per week,” ACCI chief of policy and advocacy David Alexander said.
“This dispute is significantly affecting industries across the board, including industries as diverse as retailers and the meat export sector.
“The dispute is exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis.
“The longer the government waits, the more Australia’s economy will suffer.”
Business is disappointed in the government’s support for a radical Greens amendment which would reshape how enterprise bargaining is conducted in Australia.
“The government voted in favour of a Greens’ amendment to its IR bill which would wipe out any form of give and take in bargaining negotiations,” ACCI chief executive officer Andrew McKellar said.
“The amendment, which seeks to change a law that only came into effect a matter of months ago, will mean that unions can drag out a bargaining dispute, unilaterally force a matter to be arbitrated by the Fair Work Commission, and because of the government-backed Greens change, the employer will be worse off than before.
“This proposed amendment undermines arbitration as a moderating force in disputes and will incentivise unions to stall and disrupt negotiations to trigger the new intractable bargaining clauses.
“We will see fewer agreements being made between parties and more unilateral decisions by the Fair Work Commission – further destroying productivity in our workplaces.
“The Greens’ amendment to this process would be incredibly harmful and would have the effect of fundamentally reshaping enterprise bargaining in Australia. It must be rejected by the Senate.
“This development is a sign that the government is content to outsource its workplace relations policy – a key plank of our economy – to the far left of politics.
“Reports that the government will similarly give in to pressure from the Greens in the Senate and legislate a right to disconnect is also concerning. Punishing employers for connecting with employees after hours is not consistent with the expectations of our modern economy. It is the antithesis of flexibility, which we need more of to drive higher productivity and higher wages.
“Business calls on government and the Senate to reject these radical proposals.”
The government has blindsided business with 81 amendments to its industrial relations legislation, most of which are a complete surprise.
“The House of Representatives will have no time to properly consider the changes before the government rams the bill through,” ACCI chief executive officer Andrew McKellar said.
“The government has failed to fix the fundamental issues in the bill.
“None of the government’s amendments deal with increased powers for union officials, road transport, the complexity of the labour hire changes or the extraordinary scope of the employee-like changes which go well beyond laws currently regulating gig companies.
“The legislation is a complex, productivity-sapping imposition that will drive up costs for businesses and consumers.
“The government should delay further consideration of this bill in the House of Representatives until the Senate committee has reported in February.
“Furthermore, reports that the government has agreed to support three contentious amendments proposed by the Greens necessitates the need for further consultation and consideration.
“Business continues to support the proposal of senators Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock to split the bill, so that the non-contentious changes can be passed before Christmas.”
Direct assistance for small and medium enterprises to counter cyber risks has been welcomed by Australia’s largest and most representative business network.
“Several of the initiatives announced with the strategy will directly assist small and medium businesses in preparing and responding to increasing cyber-attacks”, ACCI chief executive officer Andrew McKellar said.
Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil released the 2023–2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy and Action Plan today.
“The cyber health-check and Small Business Cyber Security Resilience Service address the concerns ACCI has continuously raised about the importance of direct and tailored assistance for small businesses if we are to uplift the capability of our small business sector.
“Cyber security is both a challenge and an opportunity for Australia, showing how a strong, ongoing collaboration between government and industry will uplift our cyber capabilities.”
An expanded national cyber security awareness campaign and clear cyber guidance for businesses to navigate governance obligations will provide further support.
“ACCI’s submission called out the complex and prohibitive structure for reporting cyber incidents and seeking assistance, and we welcome the initiatives designed to simplify this by acting as a one-stop-shop.”
“It will be critical that the government partners with industry associations and chambers of commerce to implement this strategy successfully.”
ACCI CEO Andrew McKellar is attending today’s inaugural meeting of the new Executive Cyber Council to coincide with the strategy’s release.
The nation’s largest and most representative business network, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is appearing before the Senate inquiry into the government’s industrial relations legislation today.
The committee hearing comes a day after the Senate voted to split the non-contentious aspects of the omnibus legislation.
“There is no reason that those non-contentious parts of the legislation should not be passed,” ACCI chief executive officer Andrew McKellar said.
“The government’s remaining ill-conceived changes to Australia’s industrial relations system are targeted at closing only one loophole: plummeting union membership.
“Changes to casual employment, labour hire, road transport laws, union delegate powers and the gig economy will stall Australia’s economy at a time when many workers and businesses are under extreme pressure.
“The word ‘productivity’ appears only twice in the so-called ‘Closing Loopholes’ bill. It is not a coincidence.
“These changes will inhibit future productivity growth, which is essential to the achievement of sustainable increases in real wages and to address the pressures of higher cost of living and costs affecting business.
“The bill does nothing to address those pressures and we oppose it in the strongest possible terms.”
Andrew McKellar’s opening statement to the inquiry can be found here.