Page 840 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2023

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There is insufficient analysis or evidence to support expansion of the (portable LSL) scheme to the proposed industries. The expansion of the scheme to personal care services (hairdressing and beauty services) and accommodation and food services is based on the assumption that these industries have ‘highly mobile workforces’ (and that) both employers and employees would benefit from the PLSL. Yet the consultation paper does not provide any data or evidence to support this assumption.

Indeed, mobility in these industries is voluntary rather than associated with the nature of these industries, and employment in these industries is often transient.

The purported benefits to workers are questionable. The Canberra Business Chamber also notes that the government has provided ‘no empirical evidence-base to demonstrate a benefit to employers or the precise benefits to employees’. The Australian Hairdressing Council says this bill ‘will see salon owners close their businesses or employ less staff, especially apprentices’.

Some employers will be reluctant to hire workers with accumulated entitlements, as these employees would be more likely to request protracted leave close to their commencement date.

The Ai Group and COSBOA have noted the bill’s negative, disproportionate impact on female-owned small businesses in the hairdressing and beauty sector. In 2015 the Productivity Commission concluded that the costs and complexity of portable long service leave schemes outweigh any community benefit.

The government has not explained what will happen to the money invested from quarterly long service leave payments for the large number of employees who will not stay in these industries long enough to qualify for long service level LSL or who transfer to different occupations entirely, which happens often in these particular industries. This begs the question of whether the money the government will be squeezing out of small businesses will go to subsidising its tram.

This bill is bad in principle and conception and appalling in its timing. It will have a perverse impact on workers employed in those small businesses being targeted. The government has foreshadowed extending it in future to real estate, travel agency and retail industries. So, in time, this measure will impact a huge swathe of Canberra’s small business sector.

As I said, I have spoken to the Business Chamber, the AHA, the hairdressers association, COSBOA, local businesses in and around the city, in my electorate and everywhere I am able to chat to businesses in these industries. Their concern for their employees is great.

In essence, it is a case of this Barr-Rattenbury government inflicting its incoherent, ideological agenda on battling Canberra small businesses when they can least afford it. Without workers, businesses do struggle.

Mr Parton interjecting—

Mr Pettersson interjecting—

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