Don't gag debate on workplace laws: Libs

November 03, 2022 05:05 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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The federal opposition is calling on the government to allow extensive debate on controversial workplace law changes.

Labor is trying to push through alterations to industrial relations laws that would tip the balance of power to employees seeking flexible hours and enable multi-employer bargaining. 

The legislation has been branded as rushed by coalition MPs, crossbenchers and business representatives. 

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the coalition would not support moves to split off non-contentious parts of the legislation.

"I don't think you can make this very bad bill better - the fact that the government is rushing it so quickly before the end of the year demonstrates this," he said. 

"They want to get it off the books as quickly as possible, but as I say, this country could be facing a perfect storm."

Mr Dutton warned the proposed workplace changes would only contribute to a further rise in the cost of living.

"This government doesn't have any solutions to it, then that can be very precarious for households and for businesses," he said.

Paul Fletcher, manager of opposition business in the lower house, called for the government not to gag debate to ram through its bill.

"This bill proposes the most radical shake-up of Australia's industrial relations system in decades," Mr Fletcher said on Thursday.

"The House of Representatives must be allowed to do its job and properly scrutinise this bill."

Labor has taken a stance against guillotining debate, which is when the government forces a vote on legislation after a certain time limit.

The bill can sail through the lower house with Labor controlling the numbers but the government will need the support of the Greens and at least one crossbencher in the Senate. 

Assistant Treasury Minister Andrew Leigh said he didn't want to delay legislation that would allow workers to receive pay increases a single day more than necessary.

"It's a really important issue for so many Australians," Dr Leigh told reporters on Thursday.

"Australians have waited a decade for real wage growth. We do need to make that a priority."

Key independent senator David Pocock proposed the government split the bill and solely vote on the non-controversial aspects before Christmas. 

The more substantial elements would then be examined in a committee before being voted on early next year, giving crossbenchers more time to flesh out problems.

A Senate committee is due to report on the bill on November 17, a few days out from the final sitting fortnight of the year.

Dr Leigh said the government was having constructive conversations with the crossbench but wouldn't compromise on the legislation's core principles.


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