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Interview with Laura Jayes, Sky News AM Agenda


Event: Shaun Schmitke interview with Laura Jayes, Sky News
Date: Monday, 5 June 2023, 9.30 am AEST
Speakers: Laura Jayes, host Sky News AM Agenda; Shaun Schmitke, Acting CEO Master Builders Australia
Topics: industrial relations, ‘Same Job, Same Pay’

Laura Jayes, host Sky News AM Agenda: Some of the country’s most crucial employers declared war, essentially, against its industrial relations reforms. Employers, farmers and business groups have teamed up to launch a multi-million dollar attack on the legislation. Joining me live now from Canberra is the Acting CEO of Master Builders, Shaun Schmitke. Shaun, thanks so much for your time. ‘Same Job, Same Pay’, it sounds reasonable enough, what’s the problem?

Shaun Schmitke, Acting CEO Master Builders Australia: Well, Laura you’re dead right. I mean it sounds like one of those catchy campaigns but the problem is that the impact it might have on business, the workers, Australia’s productivity and workforces generally will be disastrous. This is a policy which is effectively going to say to people, reward for effort, hard work, skills and experience means nothing.

Laura: Can you give us an example? What will it actually mean in the building industry?

Shaun: Well for building and construction it will mean that all of the country’s over 260,000 independent contractors, self-employed tradies will be captured by these laws and they may well be forced or have rates of pay dictated to them and they’ll lose that ability to set their own prices and set their own job schedules and things like that. It will also mean that for any company that brings a subcontractor onto a building site they may be captured by this, they may be forced to pay their subcontractors the same conditions that might apply to workers that might be directly employed on site. Now Laura, as you understand, building and construction is fundamentally based on subcontracting and the use of independent contractors. We don’t do that to undermine wages and conditions. We do it because that’s how building work is performed.

Laura: Is the operative word here, Shaun, could? I mean, are you just worried about what kind of collateral damage there could be here? Because this doesn’t seem to be designed to be aimed at your industry. Is it just a bit of a grey area that you need cleared up? Or does it go beyond that?

Shaun: Yeah well Laura, that’s a good question. Look, there’s a lot of uncertainty about exactly how this policy is going to apply. Certainly, we hear politicians talking about that it’s not their intention for it to apply to building and construction. But the consultations that we’ve been having with the government department of employment and certainly the consultation papers that the department has released make it very clear that the door is right open to capture building and construction, subcontractors and independent self-employed tradies.

Laura: Okay, we’ll wait to hear from Tony Burke on this one Shaun. Thanks so much for your time.

Shaun: Thanks Laura.

Media contact:
Dee Zegarac
National Director, Media & Public Affairs
0400 493 071 |

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