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Changes to penalties and union right...a risk to the residential building industry?

Media release

Changes to penalties and union right...a risk to the residential building industry?

Media release
“The Closing Loopholes Bill, introduced into Federal Parliament on Monday risks acting as a disincentive to run a business particularly a small business in the residential building industry,” said Jocelyn Martin, HIA Managing Director.

“The majority of businesses in the residential building industry are small businesses, they are the engine room of the Australian economy and are essential to ensuring the building of the homes Australia needs.

“The Bill proposes increasing penalties for non-serious breaches of workplace laws from $187,800 to nearly $1 million. This is excessive. The red tape and regulatory burden on business is significant, broad ranging and often businesses come unstuck due to the sheer volume of rules and requirements.

“Further, new rights for unions to talk with their members, and potential members, about IR issues and to have reasonable and unobstructed access to workplaces to talk about these matters is a red flag. 

“Employee representatives already have a range of powers and rights, it is concerning the Bill appears to shift the dial in a way that would expand existing arrangements. These provisions should be removed from the Bill. 

“A desire to close ‘loopholes’ should not also mean unwarranted and unjustified interference in the operation of a business,” added Ms Martin.

“Intentional rule breakers should be held accountable, but businesses must be supported to thrive and grow. The residential building industry is already facing a series of challenges from delays to price increases and skill shortages. The role of Government should be to let business do business, but a number of the proposals will simply add to the mounting risks being faced in the industry.

“While arrangements targeted at the gig economy will not impact independent contractors in the residential building industry, the Government’s commitment to build 1.2 million homes over the next five years needs an attractive, flexible and buoyant housing sector, increasing penalties 5-fold and expanding the presence of unions across workplaces will only serve to do the opposite,” concluded Ms Martin.

For more information please contact:

Jocelyn Martin

HIA Managing Director

Melissa Adler

Executive Director - Industrial Relations and Legal Services
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