National Farmers' Federation

Concerns remain despite IR Bill concessions

The National Farmers’ Federation has acknowledged the concessions granted which will see the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill pass the Parliament this week, but warns that the consequences for the food supply chain remain largely unknown.

NFF President Fiona Simson said it was disappointing to see a government so disinterested in the genuinely held concerns of employers.

“Employers and business groups have been at the table since the election, engaging constructively on pathways to improve wages and make the industrial relations system fairer.

“When push has come to shove, the Government has chosen to ram through an agenda that nobody fully understands the impact of, with minimal effort to achieve consensus.

“What does seem clear is that this bill will add cost and complexity to the system, and potentially widen the reach of industrial disputes. This will make it harder and more costly to get food from paddock to plate.”

Ms Simson acknowledged the work of Senator Pocock to improve the Bill.

“I thank Senator Pocock for listening to the business community and advocating for more considered outcomes.

“The concessions Senator Pocock has achieved will make a material difference, but don’t go far enough. 

“Depending how it’s interpreted by the court system, this Bill could still see whole segments of the food supply chain descend into multi-employer industrial disputes at once. That’s the exact risk we wanted more time to discuss and avoid.

“It’s frustrating to see the Senate crossbench having to work through issues that could have been resolved by the Government through proper consultation with stakeholders.

Despite areas of concern, the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill does contain several important measures widely supported by employers, including the NFF.

“We’ve welcomed several elements of the Bill, including those that deal with gender equity and harassment in the workplace. It’s disappointing that the Bill wasn’t split to allow these to be passed while common ground was found on more controversial changes,” Ms Simson concluded.