This week’s release of ABS employment data shows the ACT has experienced the second largest weekly decline in jobs. The construction industry has experienced a 5% decline in jobs since 14 March 2020.
Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins said, ‘The ACT Government needs to urgently release an economic plan to support local jobs and private companies, prioritising industrial relations, government procurement, taxation and red tape reduction for small businesses.’
‘The Australian Government’s prioritisation of industrial relations reform is welcomed by the Master Builders Association,’ he said.
Mr Hopkins said, ‘The Treasurer in his address to the National Press Club said IR flexibility saves jobs and that any changes proposed by the IR working groups comprised of unions and employers must pass the threshold test of protecting and creating jobs.’
‘We welcome the Federal Government’s announcement that it will extend IR flexibility until at least 28 March 2021 and to make them available to businesses which come off JobKeeper over the coming months,’ he said.
Mr Hopkins said, ‘The MBA is currently supporting many members who are planning to utilise temporary Federal laws to support companies wanting more IR flexibility or prepare company specific agreements which they negotiate directly with their employees.’
‘In the ACT, inflexible IR conditions are entrenched by the ACT’s Secure Local Jobs Code. The Code goes well beyond its stated purpose of ensuring companies do the right thing by their workers, and also assists unions negotiate inflexible enterprise agreements. Some Union agreements now entrench pay rises and conditions which are simply not viable in current economic conditions,’ he said.
Mr Hopkins said, ‘In the first 12 months of operation, the ACT’s Secure Local Jobs Code resulted in a 26% reduction in local companies being eligible for Government work. It has taken some local companies months to work their way through the quagmire of red tape that a local company must navigate simply to tender for ACT Government work.’
‘The MBA is calling on the ACT Government to remove clause 14, 15 and 16 from the Secure Local Jobs Code to allow the Federal reforms to benefit ACT companies,’ he said.
Mr Hopkins said, ‘The release of this week’s Supporting Economic Recovery report by AlphaBeta Australia has highlighted other problems experienced by local businesses which must be addressed in an ACT Government economic plan.’
‘The AlphaBeta report ranked the ACT as having the least favourable tax settings for running a business, and the jurisdiction which takes the longest time to process permits like liquor licenses. Small businesses in the ACT pay more than $1,100 for vehicle registration –œ double that of Tasmania,’ he said.
Mr Hopkins said, ‘It is vital that an economic plan which supports the 5,500 building and construction businesses urgently be released.’