The federal Liberals have rejected an invitation to attend a national jobs summit next month, calling it a stunt.
- The opposition has ruled out any of its MPs taking part in next month’s jobs summit
- Feds convene summit in hopes it will boost wage and productivity growth
- Peter Dutton says summit is a ‘stunt’ with unions
The federal government is preparing to convene a summit in the first week of September that it hopes will be the centerpiece of its economic policy for the coming term and that will unify business, government and labor.
Government ministers had expressed reluctance to invite the opposition, saying they would only be invited if they were prepared to be constructive.
On Tuesday, Treasurer Jim Chalmers wrote to Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, inviting him or another coalition MP to attend.
But Mr Dutton declined the invitation.
“It’s a set up with the unions,” Mr Dutton said.
“We’ll support all sorts of good government policies…but we’re not going to support stunts.
“The fact that Jim Chalmers wrote to me and within hours dropped it on the Australian newspaper demonstrates that this is nothing more than a stunt.”
Unions set reform agenda ahead of summit
Overnight, the top trade union body outlined its goals for the upcoming jobs summit, with “full and secure” employment as its top priority.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions said despite unemployment at a historic low, real wages were falling and precarious work was “widespread”.
The ACTU said the federal government should introduce an excess profits tax on companies “receiving windfall profits due to current inflation”, reverse planned tax cuts for high earners and regulate labor markets to ensure that wages rise in line with productivity.
Unions have already signaled they want a review of company bargaining rules, which the government has indicated it will pursue despite resistance from business groups.
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said that for workers to benefit, the government must do more than play on the edges of workplace reforms.
“It requires new ways of thinking about how our system is run, who benefits from it, and how to change it for the better,” Ms McManus said.
Shadow finance minister Jane Hume said despite her party’s refusal to attend, the jobs summit would be an important opportunity to set the political agenda for the government’s next term.
“The upcoming jobs summit will be a very important event where many of these demands will be aired,” Senator Hume told Sky News.
“The real test, of course, will be when the Labor Party starts to push aside some of these demands from its union masters.
“I think this is an important opportunity for the Australian public to really hear what they voted for.”