IR reform would be rare if it had to ‘please all vested interests’

Sky News host Peta Credlin says there would hardly ever be any workplace relations reforms if they had to please all vested interests.

The Morrison government unveiled its flagship industrial relations reform package on Wednesday which was expectedly met with ire from unions and the Labor Party.

The significant source of difference between the government and its opponents is the provision which allows some pandemic-hit businesses to be exempt from the better off overall test when changing wages and conditions.

The ‘exceptional circumstances’ provision already exists in IR law and was introduced by a Labor government, but the Morrison government plans to widen the circumstances amid the pandemic.

Ms Credlin said the government’s bill has introduced heavier penalties including jail-time for employers who underpay staff in a bid to prove it’s “not anti-worker”.

“Just as predictably, Labor is crying foul over the proposal to side-step the BOOT test, even though its own legislation from 2009 allows for this, under more limited circumstances,” she said.

“Even though the package was supposed to have been negotiated over months with unions and employer groups, it seems that this third provision – in relation to the better-off-overall-test – was inserted at the last minute, at the request of business, and as a surprise to the ACTU.

“Frankly, if workplace relations reform has to please all the vested interests, we’re not going to get very much of it.”

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