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Thursday, 10 February 2005
Page: 66

Mr SLIPPER (1:57 PM) —So often in our community governments get criticised for breaking promises they have made to other Australians. This government, through this legislation, is seeking to implement a promise made to the small businesses of Australia. On 41 occasions since we were elected to office, this government has sought to reform the unfair dismissal laws so that we are able to bring new employment opportunities to people who are not being employed by small business for fear of the financial consequences of Labor's unfair dismissal legislation. It is tragic that the Labor Party continues to condemn many people to the dole queue because small businesses are simply not prepared to put on extra people, given the onerous nature of the unfair dismissal laws which currently burden small and big business in Australia.

This government is not going to apologise for seeking to implement a commitment that we have made to the Australian people. We want to give thousands of people the opportunity of getting work, of putting one foot on the employment ladder. Even though the people of Australia once again re-elected the Howard government at the last poll, even though the opposition knows that post 30 June the government will have a majority in the Senate which it will use responsibly, we find the member for Perth is continuing to frustrate the will of the Australian people as expressed by them in the poll last year. This bill amends the Workplace Relations Act 1996 to prevent unfair dismissal provisions from applying to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. We recognise the substantial benefit to the Australian economy by the creation of extra jobs and by giving small businesses the confidence to put on extra people. Labor stands condemned for its continuing opposition to new jobs.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2.00 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 97. The debate may be resumed at a later hour.