Less than two months out from a federal election, Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O'Dwyer is ramping up her attacks against Labor's "radical" ideas for Australian workplaces.
Delivering a major speech to one of the nation’s largest employer groups, Ms O’Dwyer will argue the Australian economy is at a crossroads ahead of the election in May.
She is urging voters to look past “deceptive slogans and the politics of envy” when weighing up which party is best for their jobs, wages and cost of living pressures.
Industrial relations is shaping as a key battleground issue ahead of the federal poll, and Ms O’Dwyer claims Labor has “the most radical” agenda in decades.
Addressing the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Melbourne on Friday, the minister will take particular aim at Labor’s claims of increasing casualisation of the workforce.
Ms O’Dwyer says official data indicates the proportion of casual employees in the workforce has remained steady for 20 years, and dropped slightly in the past 12 months.
The proportion of contractors and labour hire workers has also remained steady over the past decade.
“Notwithstanding this data, demonising the prospect of a more flexible labour market overlooks the fact that part-time and casual work is a genuine and fulfilling choice for many people,” she will say.
“Particularly those balancing work with studying or caring responsibilities.”
Ms O’Dwyer warns Labor’s plans to increase the minimum wage will “break the nexus” between employee income and the capacity of employers to pay.
She has also railed against suggestions the union movement will push a Labor government to ensure workers can take industry-wide strike action as part of a promised revamp of bargaining laws.
“Make no mistake, Labor’s radical change of industry-wide bargaining is a big risk to our economy, to jobs and to our national prosperity,” she says.