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Wednesday, 22 June 1994
Page: 1820

Senator GIBSON (9.52 a.m.) —The coalition does not oppose the Training Guarantee (Suspension) Bill 1994, but I give notice that I will move an amendment to the bill asking the government to abandon the training guarantee levy and not just suspend it for two years, as is the intent of the bill before the chamber. It is coalition policy to abandon the training guarantee levy. The fundamental reason for this is that governments cannot legislate for good management. Good management can only come about from competition, from businesses working in a competitive environment and from employees and employers working together to achieve a common goal.

  Training is only a small part of this, but a very important part. Training is a particular facet of the business environment that cannot be legislated for; it was a silly notion.

  However, governments should be encouraging people to train. All businesses, if they want to succeed, put a lot into training. Peter Ritchie, the managing director of McDonald's, was quoted in the media as saying last week that the essence of successful competitive business is training, training, training. I agree with that. In the businesses that I had a hand in managing or guiding at board level we spent many times 1 1/2 per cent on training on all employees. Again, one cannot achieve international best practice and be competitive unless one does those things.

  The idea of introducing a legislative penalty into the community to encourage businesses is the wrong way to go about things. The government should be persuading businesses to go into training by showing them what successful businesses are doing and by trying to get more people to face up to being internationally competitive. Both the government and the coalition acknowledge that the reduction in tariffs, which makes the business community more competitive, has been a good step in the right direction, and more people in the Australian community now understand the need to be competitive. I stress again that competition is the key to success in business and it is the key to getting all employees, managers, and owners in particular, to understand the need for training. It cannot be done by legislation, particularly legislation with penalties.

  The government's own Kelty report suggested that the training guarantee levy should be suspended for three years. We in the coalition urge the government to give employers a real help, a real incentive to start investing from that very low investment base which we have in front of us today, by removing the training guarantee permanently.

  An article in this morning's Financial Review refers to Ms Susan Young, the national tax director from Pannell Kerr Forster. She said that by simply suspending the training guarantee levy, employers will still have the costs of running administrative systems. In other words, details of all employees will still have to be kept with regard to training in case the training guarantee levy is reintroduced at the end of the two-year suspension period.

  To save that administrative cost and to give a real fillip to businesses to invest and expand, let us reduce costs. This could be done at very little cost but it would be a good notional thing for the government to do. Hence, we strongly recommend that the government should not suspend the training guarantee levy, but should abandon it and introduce legislation to repeal the provisions. Accordingly, I move:

At end of motion, add: "but the Senate calls on the Government to abandon its training guarantee levy policy and to introduce legislation to repeal the provisions".