Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Business lobby ramps up push for IR overhaul; ACCI says both major parties rapidly writing cheques with no money in the bank

So far this election campaign, the normally hot issue of industrial relations has barely rated a mention.

But behind the scenes, business lobby groups are ramping up their wish lists on IR reform regardless of which party wins on September 7.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has today presented more than a hundred reform priorities to both major parties which includes an overhaul of the Fair Work Act.

But in the lengthy submission, the Chamber is urging the Coalition needs to get more aggressive about workplace reform if, as expected, it wins office.

The chamber's Peter Anderson says he is "not particularly" surprised that industrial relations has been taken the back seat during the election.

Listen to my interview with ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson.

"Because I don't think that the Government has you know a particularly good story to tell," he said.

"Because there's now been four or five years of experience with the Fair Work laws, and many of the claims the Government made about how those laws would apply to businesses, especially small and medium businesses, have not been met."

But Mr Anderson believes the Coalition needs to deal IR in an "orderly way".

"We know on industrial relations that the Federal Coalition has been very cautious and I think that there is still a very steep road for the business community to climb to convince the Coalition that there needs to be some significant changes to our employment regulation," he said.

"It needs to deal with these issues in an orderly way but it simply can't put them on the backburner.

"And the reason for that is that the Government's fair work laws, from almost all business perspectives, as well as independent perspectives, have swung the pendulum too far back towards centralisation and union power over bargaining."

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