April 30, 2019 Change the Rules News

By Chris Gazenbeek, State Secretary.

Our current system of rules at work does not provide a fair go for all.

The rules are unfair because under the current rules:

  • Penalty rates are being cut in Modern Awards;
  • It is harder to get decent pay rises through enterprise bargaining;
  • Wage theft and the underpayment of superannuation is rampant; and
  • Jobs have become less secure because of labour hire or casualisation.

At the same time, the tax rules seem to favour the very wealthy and multinationals over the needs of families faced with the rising cost of living pressures.

To change these rules, voters need to change the Federal Government.


Australia goes to the polls for the federal election on May 18. If we want to change the rules to make work fairer, we need to change the government.

But what will we be changing to?

The SDA knows and respects that our members will vote for a candidate and parties based on what is important to them. Your vote is your choice.

However, it is important to let members know where the parties stand on key issues in the workplace such as penalty rates and other important issues such as the economy and taxation.

Naturally, other issues will arise as we get closer to the election, but if the issues below are important to you, please consider them when it comes time to vote.

We are focused on the ALP and the Liberal/National Party Coalition in this article as one of them will form government after the election.

Even if you don’t vote for a major party, you need to know where they stand on these issues so you can consider whom you give your preferences to when you vote.


The ALP has committed to bring legislation before the parliament to restore higher Sunday and public holiday penalty rates within 100 days of being elected to government.

The Liberal/National Party Coalition does not support restoring higher Sunday and public holiday penalty rates and many Coalitions MPs are in favour of cutting penalty rates.


The ALP supports fairer bargaining laws for Australian workers and secondly, to allow bargaining at the enterprise level or with a number of employers so that workers can receive fairer pay rises.

The ALP also supports fixing Industry Awards to allow fairer pay rises. The Liberal/National Party Coalition do not support changes to the Award system or the bargaining system. This lack of support results in making it more difficult to negotiate fairer pay rises. Instead, the

Coalition says that if larger tax cuts are given to big business, they might pass some of their extra profits on to their employees.


The ALP will increase the penalties for wage theft to three times what the employer takes. The ALP will also make it easier to retrieve unpaid superannuation. At the moment, workers have to join the Tax Office queue to get their unpaid superannuation fixed quickly. The ALP will allow cases to be heard in the Fair Work Commission which will mean that workers will be able to get their hands on their unpaid superannuation far quicker.

In 2018, the Coalition advocated reducing the penalty on employers who didn’t pay superannuation and claimed that would somehow encourage bad employers to pay up.


Having a job you can count on is very important for members. The ALP has supported secure jobs by:

  • Requiring employers to pay labour hire workers the same pay as their own employees;
  • Having a national labour hire licensing scheme;
  • Stopping sham contracting with ABNs;
  • Increasing the number of apprentices;
  • Ending the uncapped temporary working visa system by requiring proper labour market testing of labour needs; and
  • Properly defining casual work.

The Liberal/National Party Coalition have not committed to any of these initiatives to create more secure work.


In the lead up to the federal election, there will be a lot of discussion on tax. The ALP has been very open about its proposed changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax. These changes are aimed at ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share of tax. They have also indicated they will increase the taxation level of those who earn over $180,000 in the financial year.

The Coalition changes in the 2019/2020 federal budget were skewed to helping high income earners more than helping those on lower incomes.

A fair set of tax rules should be progressive; the less one earns, the less tax he or she should pay and the more one earns, the greater their capacity to pay. Generally, for SDA members, changes to taxes that require big business or wealthy individuals to pay more tax are a good thing whilst tax cuts or handouts to big business or the wealthy are not.

SDA members should evaluate the ALP and the Coalition tax plans against this simple test.


The SDA respects that members will vote for a range of candidates and parties on May 18. It’s your vote; it’s your choice.

I encourage all members to vote for fairness at work and for a fair tax system. If you want to change the rules, you need to change the government.

In the end, it’s up to you.

It’s your vote; it’s your choice.

Where to the major parties stand on the issues