Closing Loopholes or crushing opportunity?

27 February, 2024

That's an interesting address from the member before me. I was here for the Hawke-Keating government. I was here for a number of incoming governments, including the Howard government, the Rudd-Gillard governments and now this government.

Going right back to the Hawke-Keating regime—they opened up the labour market. They did a deal with the unions for the betterment of this nation, and they put flexibility into the labour market. John Howard and his team were great supporters of small businesses and families, and they endeavoured to open up the labour market as Keating and Hawke had done, following in their footsteps. And along came the Rudd-Gillard governments. The Gillard government, particularly, brought the curtain down on industrial relations and started to stifle the labour market completely. Now this government has gone right over the top on those changes and made doing business more inflexible for people who want to engage.

At five o'clock this morning, when I was having a walk, there was a guy out there obviously doing the Bidfood deliveries—whatever the company is. I've seen a few of their trucks around, delivering to restaurants very early in the morning. And I thought: 'That guy's got two jobs. He's doing one delivery in the morning, and by nine o'clock he's sitting at his next job. I reckon that guy's got two jobs, and I reckon the guys before him have two jobs.'

I read the other day that some people are now so stretched that they're going for three jobs. That's not unusual. I had three jobs when I was young too. It was sort of a normal thing for us to do. The flexibility was driven by our employers who, if you were a good employee and they wanted to keep you on, either paid us more, gave us some time or just encouraged us, as young people, to take that opportunity.

For a lot of these people in the gig economy that you talk about now, quite often it's their second job, because they want to get ahead. All this loopholes legislation does is put a real crush on that debate. It puts a real crush on their opportunities. It puts a real blanket over, especially, small- and medium-sized businesses, who will have to deal with issues they haven't dealt with before. I know people in this Labor government who know what they're trying to do with flexible working arrangements. Parents, university students and all the other people that do these jobs want the flexibility to deal with their employer as they would see fit—to suit them, not to suit a stringent set of rules laid down by a Labor government with a lot of people who've never run a business and who've never run a pizza shop. These are hard businesses to run—and the smaller the business, the harder it is and the harder the owners have got to work. It's a fact now that, if you're a casual, you get paid all your entitlements in the hourly rate. You get paid your long service leave, your holiday pay and your super within the confines of your hourly rate. If it's $20 an hour for a full-time worker, it's $30 an hour or more—$35 an hour—for the employee that wants that flexibility of working part-time. You don't have to say, 'Joe Blow, we insist that you conform to our rules.'

The worst part of this is that it's such detailed legislation—it's perplexing, it's complex, it's unwieldy and it's really hard for people in business, and startups especially, to get their heads around this. I think Australia will pay a terrible price for the legislation that the government has put before the nation now and that it's passing—a terrible price.

Stay In Touch

Please contact my office with any issue or concerns you have. I am here to listen and represent you.
Contact Us
Russell Broadbent MP
Sign up here to receive the latest news from my inbox.