Retailers applaud Senate move to delay controversial workplace relations Bill

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has welcomed the Senate’s decision to delay controversial workplace relations reforms to allow for much-needed scrutiny and consultation.

The Coalition, with the key support of crossbenchers, passed a motion today to set the deadline for the Senate’s report into the 284-page Closing Loopholes Bill for February 2024, giving employer groups an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed changes.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra welcomed the decision by the Senate, reiterating the Bill in its current form would move workplace relations in the wrong direction without any upside in terms of productivity, job creation or workforce participation.

“The ARA has been advocating for deeper and better consultation around these changes which as drafted create more questions than answers. It is great to see democracy come to fruition with the Crossbench working collaboratively to ensure full scrutiny of the proposed legislation,” he said.

“We need to be extremely careful with any policy changes that could potentially drive price increases or result in added complexity for businesses – many of whom already struggle to comprehend the existing regulatory framework.

“The decision to delay this Bill until next year comes as a saving grace for retailers, who are already saddled with the execution of numerous workplace reforms in a complex economic landscape.

“They are now better placed to focus on the all-important Christmas trading period as they navigate a consumer spending slowdown and a simultaneous squeeze on the cost-of-doing-business crisis.”

The Closing the Loopholes Bill marks the third round of reforms in less than 12 months – part of the most intense rollout of workplace relations reforms in decades. 

The ARA is looking forward to engaging in further consultation with the Federal Government ahead of the Bill being revisited next year.

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