Australia’s peak employer for the resources industry has asked the Prime Minister to take action on proposed laws to improve the nation’s productivity or risk $350 billion in project investments.

The Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) has told PM Kevin Rudd he will not be able to institute his new national competitiveness agenda without improving flexibility and reducing the cost of doing business through workplace reform. AMMA’s chief executive said in a letter this week; “Any 'productivity pact' or 'new competitiveness agenda' that fails to seriously engage with essential industrial relations reforms will clearly be deficient and incomplete; will fail to attract the support of industry; and will not deliver the productivity improvement Australia so urgently needs." 

At a recent National Press Club address, Rudd outlined a seven-point "national competitiveness agenda", saying that without reforms Australia would be pricing itself out of international business. The Prime Minister at the time felt that Fair Work laws were about where they should be, and it was the fault of businesses for not pushing the best productivity outcomes.

In his letter, AMMA CEO Steve Knott said “Your speech to the Press Club called for a co-operative approach to workplace relations without any legislative reform... this is not possible. The day-to-day operation of the Fair Work system ensures productivity improvements are forced off the agenda of too many Australian workplaces."

In his letter, Mr Knott said $350 billion in resource projects for Australia would come to market only if specific initiatives were taken immediately to lift productivity, later telling the media; "If Prime Minister Rudd wants to have a talkfest on productivity yet ignore the deficiencies of the Fair Work Act and focus only on management, he is heading in precisely the wrong direction... the global business community is looking very seriously at the uncommercial wage outcomes and project delays coming from Australia's greenfield agreement-making process."