We are ‘pro-business and pro-worker’: Albanese

Anthony Albanese will stress his government is “pro-business and pro-worker” in a Thursday speech, declaring the dynamism of small business is vital for Australia to succeed in the global economic race.


  • Michelle Grattan

    Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The Prime Minister’s address, released ahead of delivery, seeks to refute the argument of some in the business community who maintain the government is too pro-union, especially in its workplace policies.

“We will always champion good jobs, fair wages and decent conditions for working people,” Albanese says.

“Equally, we understand that there are no good jobs, fair wages or decent conditions for employees, without employers.

“That’s the constructive and balanced approach we’ve sought to bring to our industrial relations reforms.”

Listing various reforms the government has made, including changes to bargaining provisions and protections for casuals, Albanese says: “All this matters because if companies are able to exploit loopholes, cut corners and undermine wages, then it’s never just workers who lose out, good employers who do the right thing and play by the rules get hurt too.

“That’s why our government has made a point of working with big firms, small businesses and unions on these changes. Because we understand that reforms which create a better system and a level playing field serve everyone’s interests.”

Albanese praises small business as central “to the continuing growth and resilience of our economy, from our suburbs to the regions”.

Very often, small businesses “are the first-movers, the early adopters.

“Small businesses change and adapt and modernise because that’s how you stand out from the pack and stay ahead of it.

“Small businesses move fast because you understand there’s not a minute to waste. And small business understands that investment can’t just be about scale – it has to be about strategy, about building on what you do best.

“There are valuable lessons for our nation in all of this. Because right now there is a global economic race underway.

“Every advanced economy in the world is competing for a new generation of jobs, investment, prosperity and productivity.

“And every advanced economy is grappling with the challenges of global inflation, the long tail of the pandemic, the uncertainty of conflict and the transformative impact of new technologies.

“For Australia to compete and succeed in this environment, we need to show the dynamism and drive of small business,” Albanese says.

He says that in next month’s budget, “small businesses and families will again be front and centre in our thinking”.

Lauding small business having “consistently led the nation in embracing solar power,” he says: “Today, nearly one in three small businesses have rooftop solar. And nearly one in five have a battery storage system. That speaks to a sense of environmental responsibility – but also a practical, commercial reality.”

Deriding Peter Dutton’s spruiking of nuclear in his Wednesday speech to the conference, Albanese says the government, like small business, “is focused on what works and focused on what will make a difference here and now, as well as deliver for the long term.

“Solar power is reliable, fast and affordable – and all the more so when combined with storage.

“One in three small businesses with solar is a great start – and I’m confident that with the right investments and support and the continuing advances in technology, that number will continue to rise.”

Albanese also takes a crack at Dutton’s complaint to the conference that business leaders express their frustrations about the government in private but are loath to be vocal publicly.

“I did see when my opponent came here yesterday he warned you about being ‘supine’ and ‘silent’. Demanding that you criticise the government more loudly and more often. Trying to drag you into his politics of negativity and conflict.

“I think more of you than that and our government has more respect for small business than that.

“That’s why we want to keep working with COSBOA [the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia] and with all of you – on industrial relations, on energy, right across the economic agenda.

“Because unlike our opponents, we don’t think co-operation is a sign of weakness and we’re not interested in talking you down or talking the economy down.

“We respect your right and your capacity to constructively represent your members and to build better outcomes, based on consensus.”

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

/Courtesy of The Conversation. View in full here.