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Let's split the bill, senators urge workplace changes


Senator Jacqui Lambie has called on the government to split off non-contentious parts of its workplace reforms to protect employees sooner.

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Contentious workplace laws should be split so employees with post-traumatic stress or facing domestic violence can be protected sooner, senators have urged.

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie and independent David Pocock will introduce measures to the upper house on Monday to help break an impasse on the controversial workplace bill.

Under the changes, loopholes would be closed that allow companies to pay labour hire workers less, add protection for gig economy workers and allow for casuals to transition into permanent work.

The bill has drawn criticism from the opposition and business groups who have argued the changes would create uncertainty for operators and increase costs.

However, there is broad support for measures in the legislation, such as making it easier for frontline workers to access claims for post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as improving protections for employees experiencing domestic violence.

The bill would also bring silica dust regulation in line with measures for asbestos to better protect those at risk from developing silicosis.

Both senators will introduce a private bill to break off the non-controversial parts of the workplace reforms in order to have the measures in place by the new year.

“We want these bills split, these are not contentious issues, I do believe we have the support of the Liberal and the National Party,” Lambie told ABC TV on Monday.

“The rest of the bill was quite contentious in parts, and we do not want to be sitting here next year with (Workplace Minister) Tony Burke saying ‘you won’t help workers out’.”

The workplace measures aren’t due to be debated until next year, but Senator Lambie said the upper house had the capacity to protect workers sooner.

“We would like these few really important things removed from the bill, that really assist people out there that are doing it tough,” she said.

“We’d like this started on the first of January, and the only way that we can do this is by splitting the bill and getting them through.”


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