National Farmers' Federation

Crean's WorkChoices Negativity Lost on Regional Australia

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has rejected comments by Labor’s Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Simon Crean, claiming the impact of WorkChoices has been to the detriment of regional Australia.
“WorkChoices provides flexibility and a focus on productivity gains that regional communities have sought for many years to overhaul workplace relations regulation and enable farmers to remain competitive in a tight and often distorted international market,” NFF’s Manager – Workplace Relations, Denita Wawn said today.
“In light of the acute labour shortages farming communities face, WorkChoices provides new opportunities for employers and employees to focus on what they want in their mutual workplace, which we are finding are often better outcomes for both groups than under previous industrial regulations.
“WorkChoices offers real benefits for regional communities, providing new job opportunities beyond the existing jobs available in agriculture, so there is a real economic benefit for regional Australia.
“NFF has consistently stressed the importance of a deregulated workplace to assist a growing agricultural sector and energising regional Australia. WorkChoices provides those opportunities and we encourage farmers and employees to use these new laws to maximise the benefits now available to them.
“It is wrong to claim WorkChoices in any way negates collective agreements. WorkChoices continues to provide the option for collective agreements, as well as individual agreements. In fact, in many instances, farmers prefer to use collective agreements for their administrative simplicity.
“However, the collective agreements that are likely to be predominantly used in agriculture are not union-based agreements because the employees do not wish to belong to a union. Labor must accept the modern-day reality that employees are increasingly happy to take the option of bargaining on their own behalf without the need for union representation.
“Rather than perpetuating an out-dated ideological mantra, Mr Crean should be supporting regional Australia by encouraging those who are unemployed to work in regionally-based industries, such as farming, to resolve labour shortages across the country and to create new jobs.
“Scaring potential new employees away from working in regional Australia is hurting the job prospects of Australians and the productive capacity of agricultural producers.”

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