THE NEWS WRAP: Abbott government set to launch sweeping review of workplace laws

The federal government is set to ask the Productivity Commission for a comprehensive review of Australia’s industrial relations laws, covering penalty rates, pay, conditions, union militancy and flexibility.

 

According to a draft copy of the terms of reference obtained by Fairfax, the report will aim to maintain “fair and equitable pay and conditions for employees, including the maintenance of a relevant safety net”.

 

The report also seeks to “maximise outcomes for Australian employers, employees and the economy, bearing in mind the need to ensure workers are protected, the need for business to be able to grow, prosper and employ and the need to reduce unnecessary and excessive regulation”.

 

Australia posts strong trade surplus

 

Australia enjoyed a trade surplus of $1.4 billion during January, its best result in two-and-a-half years, according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

 

The figure represents a 142% increase over the $591 million figure the nation reported for December.

 

“There is a new source of income flowing through – rising export receipts will boost national income, good for government revenues as well as we start looking towards the budget in May,” Commonwealth Bank chief economist Michael Blythe told the ABC.

 

Qantas Sale Act legislation passes the Lower House

 

Legislation to amend the Qantas Sale Act allowing the airline to raise additional capital offshore has passed the House of Representatives.

 

The opposition will retain a 49% foreign ownership cap on the airline’s international operations, while removing the foreign ownership threshold from its domestic operations.

 

“The purpose of the bill is to remove the regulatory handcuffs that apply to Qantas but to no other Australian-based airline, including in relation to accessing foreign-based capital,” Transport Minister Warren Truss told Parliament.

 

The Labor Party and the Palmer United Party both oppose the legislation, which is likely to get struck down in the Senate.

 

Overnight

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up to 16422. The Aussie dollar is up to US90.95 cents.

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