Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

Shadow Attorney-General

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Senator for Western Australia


6 JUNE 2023


Tony Burke’s media stunt today to announce the start of multi-employer bargaining was another cynical display that only highlights the inherent dangers of his radical shake-up of our industrial relations system.

Mr Burke knows that the employers from the childcare industry he highlighted wanted to participate in multi-employer bargaining – something they could have done voluntarily before this legislation was introduced.

“Mr Burke loves to provide soothing commentary about how well things are going on his watch. Australians should be very wary when Mr Burke says there’s nothing to see here,’’ Senator Cash said.

“While some of the participants in this Government funded industry are happy to stand with the Minister there are thousands of businesses out there with real concerns about this legislation,’’ she said.

Senator Cash said that Mr Burke has been fond of giving assurances that everything is going ok and nothing has changed but one of the things Mr Burke’s stunt today does highlight is that multi-employer bargaining has only just begun.

“Employer groups continue to be clear that multi-employer bargaining will enable widespread strikes and other industrial action and encourage unions to make unreasonable demands and risks. They have also said that this will take us back to a system of centralised setting of wages and conditions,” Senator Cash said.

Senator Cash said: “Multi-employer risks more strikes and fewer jobs which is the last thing our economy needs”.

“It will have a particularly damaging effect on smaller businesses, the backbone of our economy,’’ she said.

“Sadly the legislation that brought in multi-employer bargaining was only the start of this Government’s ideological industrial relations changes to deliver for their union paymasters,’’ Senator Cash said.

“The Albanese Government’s so-called ‘same job, same pay’ legislation will be hugely disruptive because it stops businesses being able to access the services they need to address problems they face,’’ she said.

“Labour talks about closing ‘labour hire loopholes’ – but the truth is the policy goes much further than labour hire,” Senator Cash said.

“Like employers, the Opposition recognises that our labour market is diverse and that those who choose these forms of work represent legitimate and important aspects of Australia’s labour market. Labor’s proposal is all about discouraging different forms of employment across Australia,” she said.

“Australia is a country which believes in reward for effort. As employer groups have made clear, forcing individuals onto the same rate of pay regardless of their job performance or experience will destroy incentive based work and reduce productivity in our economy. It will lead to lower wage growth and fewer jobs,’’ she said.

“Mr Albanese needs to stop taking direction from his union paymasters and adopting policies which will not work in reality. He needs to listen to our nation’s employer groups, small business representatives and the agricultural sector and abandon this foolish policy,” Senator Cash said.