There is no doubt that, in the second half of this year, major legislation is going to be pushed through Federal Parliament that will do harm to self-employed people.
We know this because of the government’s stated agenda. In a significant speech to the National Press Club on 1 February 2023, the Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Burke, laid out the government’s wide-ranging agenda. There are four items on that agenda list that we must oppose.
- The creation of ‘employee-like’ legal definitions for self-employed people.
- Limiting the self-employed’s capacity/rights to engage in the gig economy.
- Imposing business-crushing ‘employment’ regulations on owner-driver truck drivers.
- Giving the Fair Work Commission power over self-employed people.
Each of these agenda items is presented by the government as a form of ‘protection’ for the self-employed. But in fact these items reduce the right of Australians to be their own boss. There’s the harm.
We have long fought for protections for self-employed people. But these protections can and must come through commercial law and regulation.
The government’s approach on the items listed above is instead a process of denying the full right of people to be self-employed and instead forcing people into employee-like situations. This approach stems from an ideological view that only employment regulation provides workers with protection. This is a wrong, narrow and harmful perspective. Wherever this is done, great harm is inflicted on self-employed workers. Think of the AB5 laws in California which harm truckers and many others. We must try to prevent such harm being done in Australia.
We’re not saying that the Albanese government is all bad on the self-employed front. In fact, we were and are full of praise for its speedy passing of the ‘beefed up’ unfair contract (protection) laws in October last year. This is exactly the model of protection laws that self-employed (own boss) workers need—namely, protections under commercial law. But where the government heads in the wrong direction we need to oppose it.
Today we’re announcing the start of our campaign. This means:
- Writing submissions (even if not invited to do so).
- Communicating directly with government advisers and MPs.
- Seeking support from the Coalition opposition and Senate/House independents.
One thing that we have learnt over many years is that if we don’t go to Canberra and walk the halls of parliament knocking on doors, presenting our views, and raising awareness, then we will not get anywhere.
We’re asking for your $ support. This campaigning costs money. It requires effort, persistence and money. We will put in the effort and the persistence. But our only revenue is from you—our members/supporters.
- Full member ($44 a month)
- Standard member ($22 a month)
- Campaign member (you choose $)
More information will follow as our campaign unfolds.
PS: You can also follow Ken Phillips through his Self-Employed Aren’t Stupid, Substack postings.