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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) the test. And for more on the

Government's industrial

relations legislation we are

joined by Federal small

business Minister Craig

Emerson, good morning,

welcome. Take us through the

essential differences impacting

on small business. We will have flexibility provisions in awards and agreements, that

will provide the flexibility to

enable small business owners

and their employees to tailor

their arrangements, the working arrangements to suit their

personal circumstances, but it

will be subject to an overall

safety net. An effective safety

net. In the area of unfair

dismissals we'll have a very

simple system that enables

small business employers to

manage their work force, but

restore basic rights to nearly

4 million working Australians

who are employed in small businesses, that means there's

a full 12 months during which

the employer can assess with

the employee whether he's up to

scratch or not, during that

period no claim for unfair

dismissal can be made. After

that a very, very simple 6

paragraph fair dismissal code

which if followed constitutes a

fair dismissal. I would then

add, Barry, in circumstances of

a downturn in sales, that's -

where an employer has to put

someone off, that's a

redundancy, not affected by the

unfair dismissal laws. Fair and flexible for small

business, it will be a net

advantage to small business.

The final thing I will say the

previous Government had a red

tape nightmare in place for

small businesses, where there

are 150,000 different

agreements awaiting approval

from the previous Government,

around this time last year, a

bit before it. Our system is

simpler, fairer, less

bureaucratic. Let's take the

first point, are you saying if

someone says, "It suits me to

work from 6 until 3 and I can

pick the kids up from school",

that's the way it will be. To

what extent can they make those

demands on the employer. As I

say, there's a basic safety

net, so there are guaranteed

conditions, they can get into a

discussion about how flexible

arrangements to suit their personal circumstances. They

can't demand, "I want to work

this way or that way business,

there'll be a capacity for the

employer and employee to come

to arrangements suiting the

circumstances not just of the

employee, but of the employer.

We are leaving it, a lot of flexibility for both parties to

work that out. We said in forward with fairness before

the election that we would

restore a basic safety net of

working conditions for working

Australians, and that is what

we have done. If you employ

fewer than 15 employees, you

get 12 months to figure out

whether that person is worth

keeping on, if you employ more

than 15 you get six months,

does that suggest if you employ

more than 15 you are more

decisive, can make up your mind

quicker. In relation to small

business we recognise they

don't have human resource

departments and other

facilities that larger

businesses have. This is an important concession in

relation to unfair dismissals

for small businesses, we took

this to the last election, the

Australian people voted

strongly to tear up work

choices and introduce this

system. We are keeping the

promise. What are the

processes with unfair

dismissals now. In the case of

someone behaving badly, theft,

fraud, violence in the

workplace, that can be

summarily dismissal. You say,

"You're finished", we don't

expect people to keep -

employers to keep people on in

those circumstances. If it's an

employee after the 12 month

period and their performance

isn't coming up to scratch,

then all the employer has to do

is give the employee a warning.

Preferably in writing. We are

not prescribing that this has

to be in writing and give the

employee an opportunity to

improve his or her performance,

no three written warnings

appropriately spaced over time.

No legalistic processes. We

developed this in heavy

consultation not only with a

group of people representing

unions, but importantly, as

well, a reference group, a working group representing

small business interests, and people who actually practice in

this area, and that is what we

came up with, everyone that I

have spoken to, and everyone that made public statements

about this, apart from the

Coalition said it's terrific,,

"We are being supported by the

National farmers federation,

COSBOA, pharmacy guild, AIG",

it's a strong indoorsment from

small business representative

organisations. If I can ask a

question about big business,

BHP Biliton pulling out of the

merger are Rio. What does that

tell you about the state of the

economy generally? I think it

tells us that the share prices

of both of those major

companies have fallen over the

last while, and BHP Biliton

felt that the venture bringing

in Rio involved too much debt

and an unmanageable debt to

equity ratioio, it was a

commercial diss, it's been

made. There's good -- decision,

there's good news associated,

BHP Biliton said they will

invest $5 billion extra in the

industry, that's great for Western Australian mining

Australia. Craig Emerson,