Let’s be clear. There’s a cabal of unions, labour academics and self-interested businesses that are gunning to destroy the right of Australians to be self-employed.
Their strategy is brilliant in its simplicity. They plan to push through new Federal legislation that will throw into chaos the law that defines who is self-employed and who is an employee. This will directly harm the capacity of Australia’s 2.1 million people who are self-employed—people who, by definition, are their own boss.
That’s right. The Australian Bureau of Statistics identifies 2.1 million of us comprising:
- 1,391,900 self-employed (own boss) who don’t have employees and
- 805,800 self-employed (own boss) who have employees.
The ‘cabal’ is mostly targeting the 1,391,900 self-employed who don’t have employees. Think hairdressers, owner-drivers, care workers, gardeners, personal trainers, and the massive numbers of IT, accounting (and more) consultants to identify just some. What the ‘cabal’ is calling for is legislation that will strip away your right to be your own boss. They want forced employment. Such law will also have an impact on the other 805,800 self-employed.
The cabal wants legislation that invents ‘employee-like’ arrangements.
Understand what this would do. It would destroy the integrity of the commercial contract. It would give smart-arse lawyers the ability to carve out and deconstruct the very legal basis of commercial activity upon which our society is based and which defines who is self-employed. It’s a sneak guerrilla attack. But once in place it will have devastating effects.
Legislating to invent employee-like arrangements is to take social or psychological concepts and to fashion law on those concepts. It’s incredibly dangerous for our society. It’s something the High Court seemingly commented against in a ground-breaking judgment in February this year.
The High Court said (See par 44):
The employment relationship with which the common law is concerned must be a legal relationship. It is not a social or psychological concept like friendship.
That is, the employment contract, and its opposite, the self-employed contract are legal concepts. This comment by the High Court was within the context of the most important judgement on the definition of self-employment in 50+ years.
After more than 50 years of legal confusion the High Court said (See par 58):
It is the task of the courts to promote certainty with respect to a relationship [employee/self-employed] of such fundamental importance.…
The parties’ legitimate freedom to agree upon the rights and duties which constitute their relationship should not be misunderstood.
The fact is that people have a right to determine their contractual (self-employment) relationship themselves. Employee-like legislation would strip away that right. It would create massive uncertainty in defiance of the certainty the High Court says should exist.
Unfortunately, Labor’s federal ‘Secure Jobs Plan is to create ‘employee-like forms of work’ legislation.