The National Farmers’ Federation has warned a Senate Committee today that rushing through workplace relations changes could spur disruptions in Australia’s food supply chain and add further fuel to food price inflation.
Appearing before the Senate’s Education and Employment Legislation Committee, WA farmer and chair of the NFF’s Workforce Committee, Tony York, urged the government to delay controversial changes to allow for proper design and consultation.
“These changes are simply too significant to be rushed into law,” Mr York said.
“We hold very real concerns about the impact of these changes on small business and economic productivity. We couldn’t possibly support the bill without proper consideration.”
The NFF has identified the move to multi-employer bargaining as particularly concerning for farmers and others in the food supply chain.
“The proposed shift to bargaining across multiple, competing businesses is likely to increase complexity, delay agreements, and increase the costs of the process.
“It’s possible that smaller businesses will be steamrolled into arrangements which aren’t suitable for them, and place them at a disadvantage to larger competitors.
“As a sector dominated by family businesses, we can’t go down a path that puts smaller businesses on the back foot, and stifles innovation and productivity.”
The NFF said the greatest risk was that poorly considered changes may place further pressure on an already fragile agricultural supply chain.
“Too often in recent years through COVID and extreme weather events, Australians have been faced with bare supermarket shelves and skyrocketing prices.
“The last thing we need is widespread industrial action at different points along our supply chain exacerbating supply issues and adding costs for farmers and end customers.
“We’d all like to see real wage growth, but to achieve that we have to contain inflation. Grocery prices are part of what’s driving inflation so the last thing we need is to pour fuel on that fire.”
NFF will continue to engage with all parties on this important issue.