The Business Council of Australia will urge employers to rally workers, shareholders and suppliers behind workplace reforms to drive productivity higher.
Employer groups and coalition backbench MPs have stepped up the fight on industrial relations, lobbying the federal government to enter the fray on the politically sensitive issue.
In a speech in Perth on Tuesday, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott is expected to detail a series of practical “bite-sized” measures to drive higher living standards and increase wage growth.
The complexity of enterprise bargaining agreements should be unscrambled, while the Fair Work Commission’s better off overall test must be replaced with a no-disadvantage test, Ms Westacott will say.
“EBAs have become Downton Abbey-sized laundry lists, containing way too many items,” she will say.
“This bogs down negotiations, agreements take too long to conclude, and it stifles the ability of both employers and workers to respond to changing circumstances.”
The business council chief will urge federal parliament to pass laws making it easier to de-register unions and ban officials, along with a bill tightening the rules around worker entitlement funds.
Instead of reviving calls for company tax cuts, Ms Westacott will advocate for a permanent broad-based investment allowance for business.
She is expected to float a 10 to 20 per cent allowance for eligible investments to give employers extra tax deductions.
“That’s money they could reinvest into growing their business or employing more people,” she will say.
The business council chief is set to back Labor’s pre-election proposal to allow enterprise agreements to last the life of “greenfields” projects.
“We can’t allow the EBA system to die the death of a thousand cuts,” she will say.
She will also call for an end to the energy policy “wars” which have plagued Australia for a decade to drive down power prices.
Ms Westacott believes opening up the supply of gas is critical to transition to a lower emissions economy.
On training, the business council wants a single information point for post-secondary education and skills, along with greater action to boost literacy levels.
The powerful lobby group is also pushing for an attack on unnecessary red tape and regulation, and agreement between federal and state governments on the extent and sequencing of national public infrastructure projects.
“I want business to come together on these pretty simple propositions and mobilise their employees, their shareholders, their suppliers and the communities they operate in,” Ms Westacott will say.
“Because we must start taking some action. Because it is business that will drive productivity.”