Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke eyes employer threat to campaign against industrial relations bill

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke says he is having “constructive conversations” with the transverse bench of the Senate but is still determined to push through the government’s industrial relations changes by the end of the year.

“I thank the Senate cross benches for always fighting an uphill battle, in terms of wanting to make sure they’re persuaded,” he told ABC.

Crusader senators (left to right) Tammy Tyrrell, Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock. Alex Ellinghausen

“I welcome this very constructive conversation with them, obviously. They have asked for things to go more slowly. I am doing everything we can to ease their concerns about the bill and to ensure that it is done this year. .

He said those constructive conversations had begun.

“The Senate Cross Bench, from all I’ve seen, is acting in good faith here to see if we can find a way to address their concerns with the detail itself, rather than saying [have] households in Australia simply have to wait longer to be paid.

He acknowledged that the multi-employer bargaining laws in the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill are “controversial” measures, but that there was also an urgent need to boost wages by just 2.6% as inflation was 7.3%.

He argued that multi-employer bargaining would help sectors “demanding” wage growth, including childcare, cleaning and elderly care.