Roundtable kicks off IR reform process

Getting Australians back into work will be the central focus of the Morrison Government’s first industrial relations reform roundtables due to take place in Sydney today.

Key stakeholders from employer, industry and employee groups will join the Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Christian Porter, to map out the working group consultation process that will take place over the next four months – as outlined by the Prime Minister in his speech to the National Press Club last month.

“As the Prime Minister said, it is critical that all sides of the debate lay down their arms and commit to work together during this process to find ways to get our economy moving again and urgently regrow the jobs so many Australians have lost as a result of COVID-19,” the Attorney-General said.

Those attending the first roundtable will receive a detailed economic briefing from the Department of the Treasury as well as hearing from other government officials about the scale of the sector by sector challenge now being faced to regrow jobs and chart a path to economic recovery.

They will also be consulted on the make-up, forward agenda and operating arrangements for the five reform committees which will each focus on one key area of the IR system, including:

  • Award simplification
  • Enterprise agreement making
  • Casuals and fixed term employees
  • Compliance and enforcement; and
  • Greenfields agreements for new enterprises

The committees will be chaired by the Attorney-General and will have a maximum of 15 members who will bring practical experiences to the table about how the IR system works. Each working group will also have the ability to draw upon an agreed pool of external industry experience and subject matter experts. Working groups will be supported by a secretariat including senior officials from Treasury and Finance who will assist the committees to accurately cost the beneficial impacts of any proposals.

The process is directed at committee members being potentially able to reach a consensus around policy proposals that the Government can then put into action, either by way of legislation, regulation, or via the budgetary process in October.

“The problems within each of the five areas we have chosen to focus on are well known and I am confident that if we can work cooperatively, an opportunity exists to make meaningful progress at developing solutions that will make a significant difference to how quickly we can recover from this crisis,” the Attorney-General said.

“While participants will no doubt want to raise other issues outside of the five priority areas, all participants will be encouraged to leave the traditional ‘shopping wish lists’ at the door and focus on getting results that can be achieved in the shortest possible timeframe.”

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus and President Michele O’Neil will lead the union delegation.

Employers and industry will be represented by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Ai Group, the Business Council of Australia, Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA), the Chamber of Minerals and Energy (WA) and Master Builders Australia.

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