Improving workplace productivity and flexibility for employees

As I was saying previously in this debate, Australia is a high-cost place to do business and we see the results of this right around the country.

In fact, it is acknowledged that to get a project off the ground it can cost 40 to 50 per cent more than our competitors, which makes the cost of doing business in Australia an issue for those who seek to invest here.

The other issue I also want to mention is that fact that in my electorate of Forrest I see cafes closed on weekends in tourist hot spots, like Margaret River and Busselton, because they cannot afford to pay weekend penalty rates.

There has to be a way to keep their doors open to keep people employed—flexibility is the key. I noticed an article in the Busselton Dunsborough Times that said the owner of Samovar restaurant was finding it very difficult to open over Easter because of penalty rates. It is also one of the biggest issues for Amalfi Resort owner, Cheryl Morris.

We are committed, as we said in the run up to the election, to implementing a number of amendments to this bill.

Through the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014 we are delivering on improving the process for negotiating the greenfields agreements to ensure that unions can no longer frustrate bargaining for these agreements through unsustainable claims and delays.

These are the sorts of things that add the 50 per cent increase in the cost of investment in Australia and threaten investment and delay the commencement of major new projects.

These projects are crucial to our prosperity. These are the types of delays that add to that 50 per cent additional cost of getting a project off the ground in Australia.

Through this bill we are committed to restoring union workplace access rules. This is in relation to the excessive right-of-entry visits by union officials.

Previously in my speech, before I was interrupted, I touched on the hundreds of visits to Worsley Alumina in my electorate.

Through this bill we are also committed to improving workplace productivity and flexibility, giving scope to employees to make those flexible arrangements that meet their genuine needs as determined by the employees.

In closing one of the important parts of this legislation—closing the strike first and talk later loophole in the good faith bargaining rules, which Labor totally refused to address—we are maintaining the value of unclaimed wages recovered for workers by the Commonwealth.

These amendments are really important amendments that we have committed to through this bill and through the amendments to the Fair Work Act.

One of the most important things that these will do is to increase the flexibility and of course reduce the cost of getting projects off the ground.

The fact that it costs up to 50 per cent more to get a project off the ground in Australia should be of concern to everyone, particularly the workers who will be employed in those projects.

The Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014 is a key part of that.