Independent ACT senator David Pocock has called for Labor's industrial relations bill to be split amid fears first-responders could be left in the lurch.
The federal government earlier announced it would make it easier for Commonwealth and ACT government first-responders to access workers' compensation for PTSD through its Closing Loopholes bill.
On Thursday, the Coalition and members of the crossbench, including Senator Pocock, voted to delay the reporting date of an inquiry into the bill until February. That means the legislation is not expected to pass Parliament this year.
Senator Pocock, who negotiated with the government for workers' compensation changes, wanted the bill to be split so elements like compensation for PTSD could be passed sooner.
"These reforms will be life-changing and they should pass at the earliest opportunity, preferably with bipartisan support," he said.
"The Parliament needs to be mindful that the people who have advocated for these reforms are living with PTSD.
"To add unnecessary political uncertainty to these reforms is dangerous and deeply upsetting to those police, paramedics and firefighters that have been fighting for these changes for years."
The second tranche of the government's workplace reforms include a raft of changes, such as bolstering the rights of gig workers, criminalising wage theft and streamlining the process for ACT and federal government first-responders with PTSD to access workers' compensation.
The changes will mean first-responders would not have to prove their job significantly contributed to their PTSD when seeking to claim compensation.
The Australian Federal Police Association has been campaigning for the changes since 2019 and has also called for these reforms to be split off.
AFPA president Alex Caruana told The Canberra Times in a statement that AFP members were "already mentally and physically suffering due to not having presumptive legislation".
"Why should debate around industrial relations reform delay them from receiving presumptive legislation towards treatment for their mental health injuries," he said.
Mr Caruana said the association was worried about what would happen to the welfare of their members should the bill be voted down.
He believed splitting the bill would result in "a much quicker process" that would allow AFP members and other emergency services workers to "get help and treatment quicker".
Earlier on Thursday, Employment Minister Tony Burke would not comment on whether Labor would separate the proposed reforms but in a statement told The Canberra Times that the government placed the measures into one bill "to get this done as quickly as possible".
After the Senate voted to delay the bill, Mr Burke slammed the Coalition on Twitter, accusing the opposition of also delaying pay increases for miners and aviation workers and "minimum standards that will save the lives of gig workers".
Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Michaelia Cash, who moved the motion for the inquiry on the bill to report back next year, said it was "important that the senate properly examines a bill which will radically change the industrial relations landscape in this country."
"This bill and its explanatory memorandum contain almost 800 pages and it was absolutely ridiculous that Mr Burke wanted a rushed inquiry process,'' she said.
Senator Pocock said he and his team also needed time to review the bill and consult stakeholders.
"I want to see genuine loopholes closed and better protections for workers but I am also mindful of adding further complexity to business, especially small business, as well as ensuring there is time to look at any unintended consequences," he said.