Labor’s contentious industrial relations reform becomes law

Contentious reforms to Australia’s workplace relations system have been rubber-stamped by parliament, surviving a last-ditch filibuster to delay the vote until next year.

The government’s industrial relations Bill returned to the lower house early on Friday morning to tick off amendments made in the Senate.

A short burst of applause and cheers rung out in the House of Representatives after the legislation passed the house 78 votes to 42.

Under the laws, workers in businesses with common interests would be allowed to come together to bargain on an enterprise agreement.

Small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be excluded and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 50 will have additional safeguards if they wish to opt out of multi-employer bargaining.

The changes are the most significant reforms to the nation’s industrial relations laws in more than a decade and were fought tooth and nail by the opposition.

Speaking to the House on Friday morning, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton slammed the Bill as being a “return on investment” to the union movement for their support of Labor during the election.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese desperately wanted to pass the Bill through parliament before Christmas, as he sees it as key to getting wages moving.

During a marathon debate in the Senate, opposition workplace relations spokeswoman Michaelia Cash asked hundreds of questions on the proposed amendments as she sought to filibuster the final vote.

After nine hours of debate and no progress, the government said it was clear the Coalition wanted to “delay … every extra hour they possibly can”.

At around 10.30pm on Thursday, the Senate cast its final vote on the Bill. It passed 35 votes to 31 with support of independent David Pocock and the Greens.

In a statement, Mr Albanese thanked the minor parties and crossbenchers who supported the Bill and lashed the Coalition for its staunch opposition to changes.

Mr Albanese and Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke also confirmed the government would tackle further IR reforms in the new year “to close the loopholes that are undermining job security and wage growth”.

Read related topics:Anthony Albanese

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