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Government consults small business on new workplace laws

Small businesses will now participate in the drafting of new workplace laws with the creation of a new Business Advisory Group and Small Business Working Group, announced on 20 February 2008.

Federal Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard and Small Business Minister Craig Emerson said when making the announcement “the groups would work with the Government on drafting new workplace relations laws to be introduced this year”.

Key players of the Business Advisory Group

The new chair of Business Advisory Group will be, John Denton, CEO of Corrs Chambers Westgarth, who also has a strong involvement with the Business Council of Australia.

Ms Gillard and Mr Emerson said a key member of the Group will be Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group Heather Ridout, whose role will be to link the Business Advisory Group to the statutory body the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council.

Welcoming the announcement, Ms Ridout said linking the groups would provide consistency that will contribute to:

* Ultimately better legislation;
* Greater understanding, and
* Better policy development.

Ms Ridout said that the Advisory Group will be able to contribute to developing a system that will work for all of Australia in the long term, and that gives stability to business planning and investment.

“I am very pleased to serve on the Business Advisory Group,” Ms Ridout said in a statement dated 20 February 2008. “The Advisory Group is an important body and there’s a long way to go with the government’s workplace relations agenda.”

“Ai Group represents a huge spectrum of industries from ICT, through to construction, transport, manufacturing, food, infrastructure and labour hire,” Ms Ridout said. “We are therefore well placed to make a significant contribution to the work of the Group on behalf of Australian business and industry.”

The Business Advisory Group will also include representatives of the hospitality, banking, transport, construction, mining, retail, labour hire and the media industry.

Key players of the Small Business Working Group

A key function of the Small Business Working Group will be to comment on Labor’s new unfair dismissal system, the Fair Dismissal Code, and other matters concerning small business.

The Group will be chaired by the Small Business Minister and includes representatives from peak small business bodies such as:

Tony Steven, Council of Small Business of Australia
Gary Black, National Retailers’ Association
Pearce Makin, Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce
John Hart, Restaurant and Catering Australia
Bryan Stevens, Real Estate Institute of Australia
Simon Ramsay, Victorian Farmers Federation
Greg Holmes, Hotel, Motel and Accommodation Association
Kieran Schneemann, Pharmacy Guild
Peter Bush, McDonalds
Andrew Arkell, Institute of Chartered Accountants

According to Ms Gillard and Mr Emerson, in addition to these formal consultants the Federal Government will:

* Consult the Australian Council of Social Services, particularly on the question of  low wage workers;
* Consult the Australian Council of Trade Unions;
* Continue to meet with the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council, a statutory body comprising representatives of ACCI, the AI Group, the ACTU, AMMA, the BCA, the MBA and NFF; and
* Obtain the technical advice of the subset group of the Committee on Industrial Legislation (COIL), which play a consulting role in the creation of the Transition Bill.

It is expected the new laws will come into operation from January 1, 2010 and will have a significant impact upon employer and industry groups.

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