Australian resources industry requires deregulation to thrive

An Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA) survey suggests Australia should adopt a less regulated approach in order to future proof its workforce.

Interviews for the report, A New Horizon: Guiding Principles for the Future of Work,  were conducted from September to November 2018, revealing a common thread that employment arrangements in high-paying, innovative sectors within the economy should be subject to fewer regulations than low-paying areas of the economy.

AMMA chief executive officer Steve Knott commented that the extension of this principle into the wider work system would improve productivity for workers in the top tier of Australia’s industries.

“Less regulation for those personnel above a nominated high income threshold, and less regulation for high-paying employers would unlock significant productivity and efficiency while also reducing regulatory burden for the highest-performing areas of Australia’s economy,” Knott said.

“This concept should not be viewed as overly remarkable, given areas of Australia’s present work regulation system, most notably the unfair dismissal provisions, already recognise that certain protections are not needed above a certain remuneration level.”

The report cites statistics from the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report claiming that Australia, which places 14th in the global competitive index, is being held back from progressing due to an overly rigid work structure.

Top concerns cited by the resources professionals surveyed included the considerable threat of protected industrial action, a lack of confidence in unfair dismissal provisions, wage escalation, and the disruption caused to workplaces by excessive union visitation.

“The inability to accurately determine the cost of a major investment project and subsequent return on capital due to uncontrollable workplace relations is seriously impacting the projects built in Australia,” a mining industry executive said in the report. “This has led to the premature contraction of resources sector growth.”

According to AMMA, 100 per cent of the surveyed employers believed that flexibility, productivity and competitiveness should have a “much greater emphasis” in future work regulation.