News Politics Australian Politics Albanese lashes Coalition’s ‘petulance’ on wage theft

Albanese lashes Coalition’s ‘petulance’ on wage theft

anthony albanese wage theft
Mr Albanese blasted the Morrison government after it gutted its signature industrial relations bill to get just one element through the Senate on Thursday. Photo: AAP
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Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has lashed the Morrison government for its “petulant” handling of industrial relations reforms.

Mr Albanese excoriated the Coalition for abandoning wage theft penalties, which had support from all sides of politics.

“We saw the government engaging in petulant and active vindictiveness because it couldn’t get its wage cuts through the Senate,” he said on Friday.

“They got rid of the provisions that were supported by every senator and every member of the House of Representatives about wage theft.

“An extraordinary act from an immature government that is in chaos.”

Provisions criminalising wage theft were among those stripped from the legislation on Thursday.

Mr Albanese took aim at Prime Minister Scott Morrison for stripping the wage theft penalties after failing to secure crossbench support for other provisions.

“I just find that an extraordinary act of petulance from a Prime Minister who thinks that he should just get to decide everything that happens in the parliament and that democracy is an inconvenience that he shouldn’t have to deal with.”

Mr Albanese said Labor and the unions remained open to negotiations on further workplace reforms.

“We have said very clearly that we are up for any discussion about secure work and better working conditions,” he said.

“Unions are up for discussions at the labour council level or the ACTU individual unions.”

Big business has urged the government not to abandon the rest of its industrial relations reforms after only a sliver ended up being stamped into law after a dramatic day of horse-trading in the Senate on Thursday.

Provisions criminalising wage theft, changes to enterprise bargaining, award simplification and extended long-term pay agreements for major projects were all junked.

An alliance of business groups, including the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Ai Group, wants the iced reforms to go ahead.

“It is important that the government does not abandon the rest of the bill and further efforts need to be made over the months ahead to secure support,” their joint statement said.

“The legislation was the outcome of an extensive government consultation process over the past nine months involving working parties of industry and union representatives.

“A sensible compromise was reached on the casual employment provisions aimed at boosting confidence, investment, job creation and wages.”

The only part of the bill that stayed was increased rights for casual workers to ask for permanent jobs and a definition of that work type.

Employers can now classify workers as casual even if they work regular, predictable and permanent hours.

Mr Morrison blamed Labor for leading opposition to the bill despite his government failing to win crossbench support for the most of the measures.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus said the government was walking away from nine months of negotiations.