National Farmers' Federation

Burke’s IR reforms a ticket to productivity paralysis

The National Farmers’ Federation is calling for a rethink of the latest industrial relations reforms to shift the focus from pleasing the unions to lifting productivity.

NFF Vice President David Jochinke said the package announced today was a recipe for cost and confusion that would only benefit power hungry unions.

“This isn’t about serving the interests of everyday Australians,” Mr Jochinke said.

“Polling over the weekend has shown this isn’t a priority for voters. By voting this through in its current form, the Parliament would be ignoring the genuine hip pocket concerns of the electorate.

“This Bill is about serving the niche interests of the unions while ignoring the consequences for every Australian who will pay the price for it at the supermarket checkout.”

The NFF warned that the laws outlined by Minister Burke today would pour cold water on Australia’s productivity growth.

“These changes would impale Australia’s productivity at a time when it desperately needs a shot in the arm.

“This agenda isn’t about productivity, it’s the exact opposite. It’s a bill for the union bosses, who’ll receive extraordinary and unnecessary new powers.”

The NFF is particularly concerned about new rights of entry without notice, which would allow union representatives to enter farms unannounced.

“For most farmers, their workplace is also their family home. The farm is the kids’ backyard. There are safety and biosecurity considerations. We can’t just have union reps waltzing in unannounced.

“We welcome scrutiny if farmers are doing the wrong thing, but that should come from the proper authorities. Minister Burke is trying to declare martial law and put the unions in charge of enforcement. That’s an overreach we can’t support.

“And that’s not to mention complicated laws on casuals or same job same pay that are a lawyers’ picnic and already causing mass confusion. Like most farmers, I don’t have a team of lawyers sitting in my back paddock to help me wade through this.

“It also dredges up failed road transport powers which have proven to be a shambles in the past.

“That’s why business is united in saying this is a bad bill which will make it harder and more costly to run a business in this country.

“These changes aren’t a genuine attempt to improve Australia’s industrial relations laws, they are just a way for the Government to gift more power to the unions.

“By adding union-driven layers of red tape to our workplace laws, Minister Burke will leave a legacy of sluggish productivity and higher costs for consumers.”