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Coalition MP accuses Albanese government of deliberately trying to hide ‘significant costs’ to businesses under IR reforms #Coalition #accuses #Albanese #government #deliberately #hide #significant #costs #businesses #reforms #englishheadline


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The Albanese government has been forced to defend a flaw in the contentious Industrial Relations Bill which is being fiercely debated in the Senate before Parliament closes for Christmas break.

The Coalition has found a pretty clear error in calculations, revealing how much it will cost for businesses to engage in the controversial multi-employer bargaining portion of the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill.

The miscalculation was raised in Question Time on Wednesday and the error suggests that medium size businesses will face higher costs than previously suggested.

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After a bit of back and forth between several federal ministers, Hughes MP Jenny Ware accused Labor of deliberately trying to hide the “significant costs” projected to be incurred by businesses under the reform.

“I refer to page 52 of the Regulation Impact Statement from the fair work amendment bill. In calculating the cost of multi-employer bargaining, the report states, ‘The $275,700 divided by 15.2 is $12,878 per business,” Ms Ware said. 

“Is the minister aware that figure divided by 15.2 equals $18,006.

“Or is this a mistake the government is deliberately trying to hide the significant costs which businesses are set to pay?”

The miscalculation would see medium size businesses who engage in multi-employer bargaining pay $5,000 more than the figures put forward by the Albanese government.

Small Business Minister Julie Collins said she was not responsible for the costs and effectively threw the relevant department under the bus in her response.

“As the minister would be aware, regulatory impact statements are prepared by the department responsible for that legislation,” Ms Collins said.

“That department is the department of workplace relations and the minister responsible is over here if you want to direct the question to him.”

The Albanese Government has come under fire from the Coalition for attempting to rush the legislation through Parliament instead of allowing it to be debated after it was passed in the House of Representatives 80 votes to 56.

Independent Senators – whose support is needed to pass the changes – have argued the bill be split so that the more controversial elements can be discussed further when Parliament resumes in the new year.

One of the issues up for debate is the definition of how many employees make up a medium size business, currently defined as more than 15 staff, considering that the scheme is voluntary for small companies.

Independent MP David Pocock is widely considered as the most likely to cross the floor to help the government pass the reforms through the senate but he remained tight lipped around how he’d like it defined.

“It differs from no cap to 200, clearly it’s somewhere in between… I’ll continue discussing it with Mr (Tony) Burke,” Mr Pocock said on Wednesday.

The Coalition is calling for the threshold to be raised to 200 workers as most small businesses will not have the expertise necessary to negotiate with well-seasoned union officials.

New data shows 56,000 companies have between 16 and 199 employees including 6,000 manufacturers, 5,400 construction businesses, 7,500 accommodation and food services providers and at least 400 miners.

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