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Shadow Minister says Prime Minister's claims about WorkChoices are debunked by a new survey of small business owners.

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Tuesday 24 April 2007

Shadow Minister says Prime Minister's claims about WorkChoices are debunked by a new survey of small business owners


TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Opposition says a new survey of small business contradicts government claims on the benefits of its WorkChoices legislation.

The survey by the software accounting group MYOB found 30 per cent of small businesses were less likely to hire staff under the Federal Government's WorkChoices legislation and 40 per cent were neutral on the benefits of the IR changes.

Labor says the survey proves the Prime Minister is wrong when he claims that small businesses are employing more workers because of WorkChoices.

From Canberra, Peta Donald reports.

PETA DONALD: It's often assumed that small business people are rusted on supporters of the Howard government.

This morning Labor is using the results of the MYOB survey to argue it's not necessarily so.

It found while 20 per cent of small businesses surveyed were likely to hire more staff because of WorkChoices, 30 per cent said they were less likely to hire because of the Laws.

Labor's small business spokesman is Craig Emerson.

CRAIG EMERSON: This survey does debunk John Howard's claim that WorkChoices is leading to job creation in Australia.

There are strong hiring intentions on the part of small business revealed in this survey, but they explicitly do not agree with John Howard's assertion that their hiring intentions are as a consequence of WorkChoices. Only 18 per cent agree with that statement.

Eighty two per cent disagree or are neutral on the subject, so when John Howard claims that WorkChoices is creating jobs in the small business community, it's a funny thing, the small business community do esn't see it that way.

PETA DONALD: How credible is this survey? There have been other surveys that have said virtually the opposite.

CRAIG EMERSON: Well this is a survey that's been… it's conducted every three months and it is reliable.

When the government doesn't like the findings of the survey, no doubt they will claim that the survey is not a good one, but it's a large sample.

It's a survey that's been established for a long period of time, it's the most authoritative survey of small businesses around. Individual business organisations are perfectly entitled to make claims on behalf of the small business community, but this is a genuine survey and it shows that the small business community does not agree with the government that WorkChoices is causing them to create extra jobs.

In fact, there's quite a lot of apprehension amongst small businesses about WorkChoices, and the paper work requirements associated with it.

PETA DONALD: The Small Business Minister Fran Bailey is pointing to other results from the survey.

FRAN BAILEY: Well it also says that one quarter of all businesses surveyed were looking to hire more staff over the next 12 months, and importantly it also said that 57 per cent would invest in their own business in the next six months and 72 per cent said their sales outlook was very positive.

But what the survey is telling us is that small business is very optimistic under the Howard Government.

PETA DONALD: But what about the finding that 30 per cent are less likely to hire under your new WorkChoices legislation?

FRAN BAILEY: Yes, but the same survey says that a quarter of all small businesses are looking to hire more staff.

Now at any one time, with 1.8 million small businesses, you're going to have a certain percentage wanting to hire and others not in the business of hiring or maybe investing in more equipment.

What small business is afraid of is of Labor reinstating unfair dismissal.

TONY EASTLEY: Small Business Minister Fran Bailey. That report by Peta Donald.