Cash pledges ‘incremental’ IR reform

Anyone hoping for sweeping industrial law changes from the Turnbull government this election is going to be disappointed.


Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has warned that the coalition is not going to be swinging the IR pendulum to the right.

“In all of my discussions with stakeholders, what they want to see is industrial relations policy that will bring Australians with us and … that will get through the Senate,” she told Sky News on Sunday.

“They are prepared to accept incremental, but important change.”

The last thing the coalition wants to do is to put up a policy which is destined to fail, she said.

The government will respond to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations from a review of the workplace relations system before the election, expected to be on July 2.

Senator Cash has been undertaking consultations with unions and business groups over the 69 recommendations in the commission’s final report released in December.

The proposals include bringing Sunday penalty rates in the retail and hospitality sectors into line with Saturdays.

The Fair Work Commission is soon due to hand down its response to a separate review of the rates in those industries.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Thursday told 3AW radio he would accept the findings of the commission.

But his frontbench colleague Tony Burke made it clear on Sunday the Labor Party is still against cutting penalty rates.

“We support having an independent umpire, that’s what (Mr Shorten) was referring to but beyond that we believe people deserve penalty rates,” Tony Burke told ABC TV.

The Productivity Commission also proposed the establishment of a new form of workplace contract for companies to directly negotiate with their staff.

Recent reports suggest the government is unlikely to back them.

Senator Cash spruiked the commitments to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and set up a Registered Organisations Commission at a joint sitting of parliament, following a probable double-dissolution election.