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Resource leaders urge government to kick-start workplace relations reform

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AUSTRALIA’S resource industry has used its annual national employment conference to urge the Turnbull Government to put ‘fundamental workplace relations reform’ back on the political agenda.

Speaking at the 2016 AREEA National Conference today in Perth, the association’s Chief Executive Steve Knott said it was ‘disappointing’ that the government failed to respond to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on workplace relations reform during the election campaign.

He reiterated the need for the Coalition to pursue changes beyond the double dissolution triggers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and a new Registered Organisations Commission.

“Fundamental reform of our workplace relations laws cannot be put on the backburner,” Mr Knott said at today’s Conference.

“The government’s commitment to combating union lawlessness and corruption is positive, but to assume this should be the last word on workplace reform would do Australian employers, employees and the wider community a profound disservice.

“Stopping at the five workplace relations bills foreshadowed by the government should not be acceptable. There are additional, widespread and longstanding problems with our workplace system that need to be addressed.

“AREEA is calling on the government to pursue its clearly foreshadowed changes while simultaneously implementing the Productivity Commission’s recommendations to improve Australia’s workplace relations framework.”

Referencing Tuesday’s rate cut by the RBA and the threatened downgrading of Australia’s AAA rating by the major international credit rating agencies, Mr Knott warned ‘significant micro and macro-economic reforms’ are needed to stop the momentum for further downgrades.

“Australia is stuck in a period of domestic political and reform inertia, and we have become an increasingly costly and complex place to do business,” said the AREEA boss.

“Unless we can begin to change this, we can expect upwards pressure on borrowing rates with consequential adverse impacts on both consumer spending and living standards.

“The AAA credit rating wake-up call and a historic low cash rate simply reflect what most in business already know. Put simply, Australia desperately needs to lift our competitiveness.

“In our industry the decision on where to invest capital largely rests on costs versus returns, political stability and the right policies for doing business.  It is imperative that we present a more attractive platform for investment to secure the $254bn worth of potential major resource developments in Australia that are in limbo, yet to achieve final investment decision.”

The 2016 AREEA National Conference features resource industry CEOs and ‘people managers’ exploring employee relations, human resources, leadership, culture and development topics. Click here for a full transcript of AREEA Chief Executive Steve Knott’s opening address.

Click here for a PDF of this release including relevant media contact.

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