Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke pushing bill to lift wages despite concern from crossbenchers

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Federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke has poured cold water on demands to hive off contentious elements of his industrial relations bill, insisting he wants to fuel wage growth before Christmas.

Members of the crossbench have voiced concerns about the legislation being rushed through parliament, wanting changes to multi-employer bargaining to be handled in the new year.

One of the three votes in the upper house held by independent Senator David Pocock and the Jacqui Lambie Network will be crucial to the government’s fortunes.

In recent days, the businesses community has reiterated its fears that small businesses could be crippled by the changes.

Mr Burke has told the ABC’s Afternoon Briefing that multi-employer bargaining was one of the key ways to ensure wage growth in low-paid, feminised workplaces.

“People have been waiting for 10 years without their wages moving, and I don’t want to continue that delay,” he said.

“Let’s not pretend we don’t have a level of urgency here — if having wages at the moment in Australia running at 2.6 per cent, and inflation running at 7.3 per cent.

“If that doesn’t give us a sense of urgency, I don’t know what will.”

The legislation, known as the “Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill”, was referred to a parliamentary inquiry last week, but the deadline for it to report back is November 17.

The final sitting day of parliament for the year is December 1.



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