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


31 AUGUST 2023


The Albanese Labor Government has failed to demonstrate how their proposed industrial relations changes will help Australian businesses to prosper, grow and create higher paying jobs for Australians.

Instead, Minister Burke today dismissed business concerns that the changes will increase complexity and stifle innovation and jobs growth. Minister Burke also confirmed that costs would go up because of Labor’s changes.

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Senator Michaelia Cash said: “At a time of a cost-of-living crisis, high inflation, businesses struggling with staff shortages and rapidly increasing power costs, Labor is making a bad situation worse.”

“We haven’t seen the legislation yet but we know that with Labor the devil is always in the detail,’’ she said

“Tony Burke has released a small amount of selective information on the gig economy changes to paint them in the best possible light. But he has previously referred to the gig economy as a cancer,’’ Senator Cash said.

“The big risk here is the broad range of independent contracting arrangements likely to be caught by this legislation,’’ she said.

“Mr Burke talks about food delivery, ride share and the care economy but the reality is a significant number of independent contractors advertise their services on digital labour platforms,’’ she said.

“He should provide clarity about how they are likely to be affected. He also needs to provide clarity around what digital platforms that are in and which ones if any are exempt and why,’’ she said.

“Quite extraordinarily Mr Burke today revealed that it is his intention to give the Minister (himself) the power to unilaterally determine through regulation whether or not a digital platform is employee like,” Senator Cash said.

“The last thing we want to see is innovative digital businesses being penalised and forced back to more traditional ways of working that don’t meet customer demands. This could mean less work opportunities for workers who want them,’’ Senator Cash said.

Senator Cash said that the expectations within the business community is that other aspects of this Bill will be much worse than had been foreseen.

“We are yet to see details of the attack on Labour hire and casuals but there are real concerns these will put businesses and jobs at risk,’’ she said.

“It will be absolutely critical that the legislation is given sufficient scrutiny in the parliament, particularly through an adequate Senate inquiry process that allows businesses and stakeholders to voice their concerns, she said.