It looks increasingly likely AWAs will be available to employers and employees at least until 30 June after Family First Senator Steve Fielding expressed concern about scrapping the agreements.
Fielding has reportedly called for a Senate inquiry into legislation Labor plans to introduce into Parliament later this week that would stop employers entering into any new AWAs.
Without Fielding’s vote Labor would require two Coalition senators to cross the floor in order to pass its legislation through the upper house, a task it could find difficult to achieve.
That means Labor would not be able to pass its first tranche of industrial relations laws until after 30 June, when the composition of the Senate changes to reflect last year’s election.
That Senate will be slightly more favourable to Labor, with Fielding and South Australian independent Nick Xenophon holding the balance of power in the Senate along with the Greens.
The Coalition is now calling for a split in the Government’s industrial relations legislation so that changes implementing 10 new minimum pay and conditions standards, and triggering an award rationalisation process, can be passed separately to those dealing with AWAs.
Opposition workplace relations shadow minister Julie Bishop says the Coalition would be happy to settle for a version of AWAs incorporating something similar to the no-disadvantage test that applied pre-WorkChoices.