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Labor must choose: small business or the unions.



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Tue, 15th July 2008 LABOR MUST CHOOSE - SMALL BUSINESS OR THE UNIONS

Steven Ciobo MP Shadow Minister for Small Business, the Service Economy & Tourism

The Rudd Labor Government must clarify whether ACTU President Sharon Burrow will have a stronger voice than its 10-member small business advisory group, Shadow Small Business Minister Steven Ciobo said.

This comes after reports Labor is ignoring the recommendations of the advisory group and is in the pocket of the union, according to one source, when it comes to the government's revised unfair dismissal exemption.

"The Labor Party trumpeted they were establishing a small business advisory group to advise them on small business less than six months ago, and now, at the very first challenge, there are reports that indicate Labor will ignore its own small business group to appease the trade unions,'' Mr Ciobo said.

''Because of Labor's union masters, the small business sector is being left in the dark about the government's new unfair dismissal laws.

''Labor had 11 years in opposition, surely that was enough time to come up with a position for small businesses on unfair dismissal.

''Who is Labor going to listen to - Sharon Burrow and the unions or the small business advisory group they set up?

''The Rudd Labor Government's plan to radically wind back unfair dismissal laws to capture thousands of small businesses is going to further collapse small business confidence.

''The Labor Minister needs to listen to small business. Labor set up a small business advisory group, but according to media reports, Labor doesn't like what it's hearing.

''Labor doesn't actually want advice on small business policy, it just wants to pretend it does. We all know who calls the shots - the union movement - and it's clear small business is being sidelined.

''The advisory group has made it clear that Australia's small businesses want a formula where only businesses with 15 full-time equivalent staff were subject to Labor's new laws. That should be a minimum.

''It is time Craig Emerson faced the music after seven months in office and 11 years in Opposition. Small businesses deserve a guarantee from Labor they'll be protected.

''The Minister needs to decide who he's going to listen to and who he's going to represent - will it be the small business sector or will it be the union movement?

''Industries like hospitality and tourism, two of Australia's biggest employers, will feel the dead hand of government red-tape if Dr Emerson does not protect small businesspeople who hire a large number of casual staff.''