There’s no doubt that the Senate independents have brought common sense to the Albanese government’s Loophole (industrial relations) Bill. And it’s a great victory for common sense that the firm stand taken by the independents has forced the government to start making amendments to the Bill.
- First, the independent Senators refused to pass the entire Bill given that it is one huge pill too enormous and complex to swallow!
- Second, the independent Senators carved out four vital work-safety-related items from the Loophole Pill/Bill and passed these (in the Senate) but the government voted against this and insisted the entire Pill/Bill should be passed/swallowed in its entirety.
- Third, the government has carved out three amendments to bits of the Pill/Bill, presenting these as a great victory for them—as if they are masters of negotiation!
We don’t yet know the details of the government’s three amendments, but from the government’s media output they relate to changes to:
- ‘Service contractors’ under labour hire;
- Some aspects of the casuals definitions; and
- Some aspects of the gig provisions.
We see these as minor changes given the massive size, complexity and far-reaching implications of the Loophole Bill. And the government seems to be desperate to get some industry associations and businesses to agree to some aspects of the Bill as part of a political game to pass the entire Pill/Bill.
But the truth is that the government has started making changes (very minor on our assessment) only because the independent Senators have said ‘NO, this Bill must be studied and looked at in its detail’. (And the Lib/Nats have supported this.)
Sometimes our parliamentary democracy actually does what it’s supposed to do—that is, make for better government. There are huge parts of this Bill that are super bad and should not be passed.
We say that the following sections of the Bill should not be passed—namely, the sections that:
- Outlaw the bulk of self-employment;
- Outlaw digital (gig) platform operations in Australia and therefore deny self-employed people the right to earn their income through digital (gig) platforms; and
- Destroy self-employed owner-drivers’ businesses.
One big reason for not passing the Bill/Pill is that it is designed to damage competition law in Australia. This would create opportunity for a further concentration of economic power by big business. This would hit small business people in the guts.
So far, every indication from the independents is that they are not going to be bullied and are looking at the Bill in its detail.