National Farmers' Federation

Industrial relations Bill delivers a lump of coal to farmers

The Senate has handed farmers a lump of coal for Christmas by splitting the Closing Loopholes Bill and rushing through a deal that will impact farm businesses using labour hire. 

The Albanese Government made a deal with some Crossbenchers to introduce changes that hit the floor of Parliament at the last minute and allowed union-driven legislation to pass. 

National Farmers’ Federation NFF President David Jochinke said the Bill had been sliced and diced more times than a leftover Christmas ham.

“It’s left farm businesses to deal with complex legislation and layers of red tape during the festive season,” he said. 

“The average farmer doesn’t have a legal team to lean on to unpack this legislation.

“We’ve consistently called for extra time for Parliament to consider the more complex and controversial components of the Bill, but the Government has bowed to the unions and steamrolled ahead. 

“It seems the Albanese Government prefers to schmooze the Crossbench for fast, backroom deals over proper policy process and good outcomes.

“Farmers will be left to grapple with how they engage employees through labour hire in the context of this new legislation during the busiest time of the year.” 

The NFF supports some components of the legislation, like increased penalties for wage theft and protections for victims of domestic violence which could have been passed weeks ago.  

“But rushing through legislation on the last sitting day is irresponsible and contributes to a complex and costly industrial relations system that preferences unions over productivity and sensible solutions.” 

Mr Jochinke said the NFF would continue to engage with parliamentarians as the Government progresses the rest of the legislation next year. “We need workable industrial relations laws in Australia to encourage people to take workers on, boost productivity and keep farmers farming.”