After being given a mere
five working days to wade through over 400 pages of new industrial relation
laws, I’m sure many small business owners are going to spend the weekend with
more than a little bedtime reading.

Although Henry fully
expected the Labor and labour side of the equation to come out swinging, little
did he expect them to a) land any of those punches, and b) be joined in
opposition to the reforms by business.

The obvious bone of
contention for small business is the lack of time given to understand the new
laws. The Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia’s chief
executive Tony Steven stated that “for the regulations to be released on Sunday
and then come into effect on the 27th does not leave much time for
small businesses around the country to digest the amount of information”.

Five days after the
release of the legislation, Australia’s peak business body the
Business Council of Australia (BCA) has yet to comment on the detail of the
legislation. Henry thinks it deeply disappointing that the BCA – established
“to provide a forum for Australian business leadership to contribute directly to
public policy debates” – has not been able to comment. Presumably they, like the
rest of the Australian business community, must still be wading through the 400
pages of new laws. After all, it did take Henry more than five days to get
through Crime and Punishment. At over 400 pages of regulations, deregulation
this ain’t.

Even big business is
worried, with chief executive of the mining industry’s peak body, the AMMA,
Steve Knott saying that a move to standardised awards will mean the resources
industry will “get dragged back into the ruck of industry award negotiations
that don’t have regard to their particular
circumstances”.

Even the
Treasurer’s own Department thinks the reforms will do little
to help Australia catch up with the world’s
productivity leaders.

Further reading on IR “reforms” here.

Peter Fray

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