Cabinet document hints at industrial relations reforms

by Chloe Taylor07 Dec 2015
An ABC investigation has revealed that the Turnbull Government is under pressure to change Australia’s industrial relations system.

A brief for Treasurer Scott Morrison said that increased workplace flexibility is “key”, and urged the government to act “now”.

The document also endorsed an inquiry that is poised to recommend cutting Sunday penalty rates across a range of industries.

“Labour market flexibility remains key to the economy adapting to challenges and opportunities in the future,” the Treasury department wrote.

“The Productivity Commission's Review of Workplace Relations represents a significant opportunity for labour market reform to help drive productivity in the economy.”

Productivity was continuously flagged up as a priority throughout the document.

“Our goal needs to be improvement in the country’s productivity,” the Treasury report continued.

“Reform now is important, as delay will only exacerbate the extent of change required in the years ahead.”

August’s interim Productivity Commission report recommended cutting Sunday penalty rates for several sectors in line with Saturday pay, although it noted that wages for emergency services workers should not be affected.

“Australian society expects to be able to shop, go to a pharmacy, and eat at cafes and restaurants on weekends,” Productivity Commission chairman Peter Harris said.

When probed about the Treasury document, Morrison said that Australia was still experiencing an economic transition.

“The Australian economy is diversifying and establishing a broader base for future growth,” he explained.

“Australians understand the changes taking place in our economy and are looking to the Government to continue to pursue policies that support jobs and growth. This is what we are doing.

“The Turnbull Government is backing Australians with our policies — whether it's our efforts to make our tax system growth friendly, boost productivity through our innovation, competition and infrastructure initiatives or gain increased access to overseas markets though our trade agenda, we are taking action to support Australians who are working, saving and investing.”

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