CCIQ Addresses Qld Parliament on Industrial Relations Bill
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback to the Finance and Administration Committee on the Industrial Relations (Fair Work Act Harmonisation) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012.
As a very brief aside the Queensland Government referred their private sector industrial relations powers to the Federal Government in 2010 leaving the Queensland Industrial Relations Act 1999 covering State public service and local government employees. CCIQ supports the continuation of this referral for our members to the Commonwealth.
In relation to this Bill CCIQ is strongly supportive of the objective to require the QIRC to give consideration to the State’s financial position and fiscal strategy when determining wage negotiations.
The Queensland business community has a strong right to be heard on this issue contributing at least $6.7 billion to the State Government through payroll tax, land tax, business stamp duties and motor vehicle rego or 65% of total taxation revenue.
Approximately 45.4% of the State’s operating expenses is apportioned as employee or superannuation expenses. Accordingly the nexus between businesses taxes and the State budget’s employee expenditure is strong.
Business wishes to see its taxes, its hard earned money used appropriately.
One of the key outcomes sought by Queensland businesses from the new State Government is better economic and fiscal management. This is required to bring the State Budget closer to a more sustainable position and restore the state’s AAA credit rating.
The overall trend in Queensland’s finances in recent years has been one of deterioration driven by growth in recurrent spending.
Failure to reduce spending growth will threaten the sustainability of our public finances over the medium term and damage the economy’s competitiveness through dependence on prevailing high business taxes and charges. This is an outcome that must be avoided.
The challenge for this State Government is to improve fiscal management. This can only be done by dramatically reigning in current government expenditure. Accordingly CCIQ is supportive of strong efforts to ensure departmental operating expenses do not rise unchecked.
Yet in each of the past five years public sector wages growth has significantly outpaced private sector wages growth as measured by the ABS Labour Price Measure.
Since the GFC wages growth for the private sector in Queensland has grown by 15.7% yet public sector wages in Queensland has grown by 19.4%. This difference would account for approximately $707 million in budget savings in 2011-12. That is applying private sector wage outcomes to the public sector would have wiped a quarter of the budget deficit off the books.
In short the QIRC has in our view had very little regard for the capacity of the State Government to pay in determining wage outcomes for the public sector in recent years.
Queensland businesses are required to look closely at their own expenditure to ensure they remain profitable and viable, and the Queensland Government should not be any different.
CCIQ believes that the Queensland community understands that the public sector has to bear more responsibility for cost saving measures.
Subsequently, CCIQ remains supportive of the objective in the Bill to ensure the State’s financial position and fiscal strategy are taken into consideration when determining wage outcomes for the Public Service in order for the State Government to achieve improved economic and fiscal management outcomes.