Allowing enterprise agreements to run the full length of major project construction is a sensible and long overdue reform, says the Australian Mines and Metals Association.
Life-of-project agreements are the subject of a policy discussion paper released this week by Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter.
AMMA chief executive officer Steve Knott said this would be a critical reform providing certainty around cost and timing of world-class resources and energy projects which take up to seven years to complete.
“The ability for an enterprise agreement to cover the full length of major project construction would provide critical investment certainty that will assist future multi-billion-dollar mega project development,” he said.
“The last wave of major resources and energy project investment was overwhelmingly beneficial to the nation, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, huge economic gains and raising wages and living standards across the country.
“However, some recent mega projects have suffered cost blow-outs and completion delays due to unnecessary industrial action mid-to-late in the construction phase.
“Ameliorating this risk going forward by allowing an agreement to run the full length of project construction undoubtedly has merit.”
Mr Knott said the AMMA had argued the case for ‘life-of-project agreements’ since before the commencement of the Fair Work Act 2009.
“This now forms one of the resources and energy industry’s eight key priorities for fixing Australia’s failing IR system, as outlined in Pathway to Productivity,” he said.
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive officer Tania Constable called on all parliamentarians to support this reform.
“Allowing greenfields agreements to cover the life of projects is a sensible reform that will stimulate new investment and jobs across Australia,” she said.
“Currently, greenfields agreements cannot extend more than four years after the date of approval by the Fair Work Commission.
“After a greenfields agreement has passed its nominal expiry date, industrial action may be taken. This means that employers may be subject to significant uncertainty and additional costs at a critical time of project construction when the greenfields agreement passes its nominal expiry date.
“There are billions of dollars’ worth of potential resources projects being developed in Australia that will benefit from greater certainty and confidence that budget and schedule commitments can be met.”