The ‘Loophole Bill’, officially known as the industrial relations Bill, is causing concern among self-employed individuals in Australia. Contrary to its name, the Bill is not simply closing loopholes but proposing a radical and far-reaching transformation of key aspects of the Australian economy and society. With 284 pages and a 521-page explanatory memorandum, the Bill covers multiple agendas.
Originally, the government aimed to pass the Bill before Christmas this year, but the Senate has delayed it until February 2024 to conduct an inquiry. To contribute to the inquiry, Submissions were due on September 29th. However, one submission, from Self-Employed Australia, cannot be made public until accepted by the Senate Committee.
The submission, which is 13,000 words long, highlights several critical issues addressed in the Bill. Notably, the proposed legislation seeks to subject commercial transactions to industrial relations regulation, specifically those transactions related to earning income. In practical terms, if passed, the Bill would outlaw the bulk of self-employment, digital platform operations in Australia, earnings via digital/gig platforms, and self-employed owner-drivers.
Moreover, the Bill could damage competition law in the country, creating opportunities for further concentration of economic power among big businesses. Consequently, a significant percentage of small businesses in Australia could become illegal if the Bill is enacted.
A line-by-line analysis conducted by Self-Employed Australia reveals how the Bill achieves these outcomes. It overrides the High Court’s determinations regarding the distinction between ’employee’ and ‘self-employed’, breaches Australia’s International Labour Organisation obligations to protect self-employment status, limits the power of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), defines commercial contracts as employment contracts, regulates self-employed individuals as employees, and aims to remove the commercial basis of digital (gig) platforms.
Additionally, the Bill seeks to regulate owner-drivers as employees. The implications of these proposed regulations would be significant for small businesses and self-employed individuals, fundamentally altering the nature of their work and potentially imposing additional burdens and limitations.
Over the next few weeks, Self-Employed Australia plans to release its analysis of the Bill in stages, allowing individuals and businesses to fully understand its potential impact. As the organization continues to study the Bill, it seeks to raise awareness and advocate for the interests of self-employed individuals and small businesses.
In conclusion, the industrial relations Bill, known as the ‘Loophole Bill’, represents a substantial and potentially damaging transformation of the Australian economy and society. With its broad scope and numerous implications, the Bill has raised concerns among self-employed individuals and small business owners. As debate surrounding the Bill continues, organizations like Self-Employed Australia are working to ensure the interests of self-employed individuals and small businesses are taken into account.