Employment minister Tony Burke will push ahead with sweeping changes to Australia’s workplace laws to kick off a fortnight-long sitting in Canberra this week.
On Monday, Employment Minister Tony Burke will introduce a raft of Labor’s industrial relations reforms aimed at closing “loopholes” in workplaces.
A newly-announced piece of the legislation includes a bid to amend the Fair Work Act to protect bargained rates in enterprise agreements from being undercut by the use of labour hire.
Mr Burke said this would be “life-changing” for a small number of workers employed in the mining, agriculture, and transport and distribution sectors.
Labor’s IR reforms, which aim to protect gig economy workers, will also specifically define what an employee is in government legislation for the first time.
It will seek for more training and rights for unions, allowing officials to apply to the Fair Work Commission for immediate right-of-entry to a workplace accused of underpayment.
Mr Burke’s bill will put forward tougher penalties for employers guilty of wage theft, proposing a maximum 10 year jail sentence and fines of up to $7.8m for severe offenders.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton has labelled the changes as an “attack on small businesses” that will drive up living costs.
“What we’ve seen so far will make it very, very difficult for us to support what will be an economy-destroying piece of legislation and just another nail in the coffin of small business,” Mr Dutton said on Sunday.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will fly to Asia on Tuesday, making stops in Indonesia and the Philippines before launching a report on opportunities for Australia in the South East Asian economy at the G20 Summit in India.
His deputy, Richard Marles, will act as chair during question time in the PMs absence.
The Coalition are expected to challenge Labor over a decision to block Qatar Airways for additional international flight services to major Australian airports.
Nationals MP Bridget McKenzie lodged orders for the production of documents from ministers related to the Qatar move which she called a “protection-racket” for Qantas.
“I look forward to getting the real reason why this decision was made out to the Australian public,” Senator McKenzie told the Guardian last Friday.
On Tuesday, NSW Liberal senator Maria Kovacic will deliver her first speech, after replacing the late Jim Molan.
Independent MP Allegra Spender will lead a debate on housing supply, with an interim report due on the government’s inquiry into the country’s rental crisis at the end of the month.
Independent MP Rebekha Sharkie is also expected to renew a push to legislate spending caps on political donations.