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Monday, 18 February 2002
Page: 327

Mrs MOYLAN (2:46 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Small Business and Tourism. Can the minister please advise the House of any recent developments in workplace relations legislation? How would these changes affect the interests of small business in my electorate of Pearce?

Mr HOCKEY (Minister for Small Business and Tourism) —I thank the member for Pearce for her question. In Western Australia, the Gallop Labor government has released a draft workplace relations bill. This Labor Party bill has the potential to close down new and existing employment in Western Australia's 116,000 small businesses. There are many significant changes covering union access to the workplace and a range of other `mates rates' type issues. But if you just take one example of the impact of this bill you can see the sort of effect it will have on Western Australia's small businesses.

At the moment, a worker has 28 days to make a claim for unfair dismissal. Under the Labor Party's bill the time limit is removed and a worker can make a claim whenever they want. For example, say you run a hot bread shop in Northam in the electorate of Pearce and one of your workers is consistently late for work: after warning them, you terminate their employment. Under the Labor Party's new bill in Western Australia you could face an unfair dismissal claim in six months, in a year, in two years or in 10 years. This is a permanent ball and chain on Western Australia's small businesses. It is drafted by the unions and it is designed to close down jobs in Australia's small businesses.

The Leader of the Opposition said—and I believe it was in good faith—on 26 November last year that he really wants to `develop policies that support small business'. I say to the Leader the Opposition that in his first policy workshop he can pick up the phone to his mate the Premier of Western Australia and tell him to stop this job destroying bill. If the Labor Party is serious about creating jobs and helping small businesses then the Leader of the Opposition can do something now about it and stop Western Australia's small business job destroying bill.