Page 1939 - Week 06 - Friday, 6 May 2005

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fund a business, to meet the costs and demands of banks and so forth, to meet their payroll to ensure that their employees are not displaced—and we saddle them with an increasing raft of rules and regulations that may be easy to accommodate if you are a large multinational or a major industrial employer but in the context of a small type business are difficult and are additional charges that impact on the capacity of people to bring others into the work force.

Many things that occur in small business are on an informal basis. They may not stand the test of legal scrutiny. The direction in this country seems to be towards more flexible arrangements, whereas this Assembly appears to be moving towards a far more regulated, controlled and centralised arrangement as determined by government. I do not think one size fits all. I think there is a strong basis for recognising that different industries have a different capacity to pay. That is one of the redeeming principles behind the industrial award system, so that those areas that have either unique problems or individual capacity can negotiate those with the two industrial partners involved in that industry. But every time a parliament steps in and creates a new industrial standard, it is obviously imposed on every employer, irrespective of their capacity to pay.

I am not suggesting that the measures here are necessarily going to lead to overnight financial ruination; I am not being that extreme. But I would counsel the minister and the government to understand that, every time these measures are added to the cost of doing business, it fuels a belief, which is now quite prevalent in Australia, that Canberra is not a great place to set up shop.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (9.39): I am not surprised at the speeches that Mr Mulcahy gave yesterday and today. In fact, if Mr Mulcahy and his colleagues both here in the Assembly on the opposite side and in the business community had their way, we would all still be working in the salt mines and they would be living in their royal palaces, with us just there to do their bidding.

Mr Gentleman: Probably children in the mines.

MS MacDONALD: Yes, they would still have children in the salt mines. Mr Mulcahy made the comment—and this is often a comment that is made any time we look at introducing anything progressive in industrial relations—that business will collapse, they will not be able to cope with the strain and it is the end of the world. He has also made the comment that business will leave the ACT because of this extra impost on business. He says there are too many things going on and we cannot possibly have long service leave accessible after seven years for people in the private sector, because that is just not fair and really we should be looking at Queensland. It is interesting that Mr Mulcahy mentions Queensland, yet he does not mention New South Wales, where long service leave is accessible after five years.

Here we are talking about introducing pro rata long service leave after seven years in the ACT and Mr Mulcahy says it is the end of the world because everyone is going to leave—

Mr Gentleman: The sky will fall in.

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