17 June 2020


Tim Quilty stands up for small business during debate about wage law change

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty has stood up for small businesses in Victoria during a debate on proposed wages legislation.

The Andrews Government is trying to put into place laws which punish employers that underpay staff.

But Mr Quilty argued that workplace agreements are too complex and that small business owners cannot afford to employ experts to help them ensure they are meeting their pay obligations.

“The Liberal Democrats will not support this bill … because in most cases these problems are caused by workplace agreements with structures so complicated that their full meaning is unknowable to even the best experts,” Mr Quilty said.

“How complicated exactly? Businesses don’t understand them. Complicated enough that no one understands them. Unions don’t understand them.”

Mr Quilty gave examples of huge corporations which had underpaid employees for years before the complexities were revealed.

“Why did it take SDA (Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association) six years to work out that Coles had underpaid 600 workers $20 million? Or nine years to establish that Woolworths underpaid 5700 workers up to $400 million?”

Mr Quilty argued that while he was a strong advocate of employees’ rights, the Labor Government’s Wage Theft Bill was not the way to protect them.

“This industrial relations system is hopelessly broken – and this bill is not the fix it needs,” Mr Quilty said.

“For those unaware, the Liberal Democrats are mildly pro-union - because we believe in freedom of association, but we also don’t think unions are some kind of special rainbow unicorn organisations.

“Good unions haven’t forgotten that their purpose is to represent members. Bad unions are preoccupied with caucus issues and social justice campaigns. And Labor Party numbers.”

Mr Quilty said the bill will not protect employees, but instead will punish small businesses.

“The bill takes direct aim at individual contractors and the gig economy – trying to force these people into traditional work relationships. This again is just an attack on entrepreneurship, pandering to bad unions,” Mr Quilty said.

“When the government liberalises and deregulates industrial relations, when the award system becomes simple for everyone to navigate, we will be happy to line up in support of this law.”

For more information, contact Graham Springett | 0408 208819