11 November 2022

Haines encourages community to contact her on industrial relations bill

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has encouraged members of the community in Indi to contact her on the Government’s proposed industrial relations reform.

The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill was rushed through the House of Representatives on Thursday, just two weeks after the complex legislation was introduced to Parliament.

Dr Haines voted against the legislation on Thursday, despite supporting the goal of the Bill.

“Workers in my electorate need a wage rise. We are in the bottom third of electorates for wages,” Dr Haines said.

“The median weekly income in Indi is $736 compared to an Australian average of $805 per week. We desperately need to get wages moving especially as cost of living grows.”

In a speech to the House of Representatives late on Wednesday night, Dr Haines expressed her support for increasing wages and closing the gender pay gap.

“I want wages to increase, particularly for women; I want more people working; and I want our businesses to succeed.”

But Dr Haines said the way in which the Government had moved to rush through important, complex legislation without time to be properly scrutinised, and before a Senate committee inquiring into the Bill had reported back, meant she couldn’t vote in favour of it.

“The job of a conscientious legislator is to do that scrutiny, to understand what questions need to be asked to safeguard for unintended consequences. In my mind, the speed at which the government has progressed this bill does not do justice to the very serious intent of the problem this legislation is seeking to solve.”

Dr Haines told the Parliament she was concerned about the possibility of unintended consequences for small businesses attempting to navigate the new proposed single-interest test. The employee threshold for small business – currently defined as 15 or less employees – was a significant concern of everyone Dr Haines spoke to in the short time she had to consider the bill.

It is expected the Bill will be further amended in the Senate and will come back to the House of Representatives for a final vote before the end of the year.

“I genuinely hope the Government works constructively with the Senate and that the Bill may come back to this place in a form that I could support,” Dr Haines said.

“While that debate is happening, I will do all I can to engage in good faith with the people most affected by it.”

Dr Haines encouraged people in Indi who would be affected by the bill to contact her by email at helen.haines.mp@aph.gov.au to express their views.

Dr Haines’ full speech can be accessed here.

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