Nelson talks tough on unfair dismissal

Opposition leader Brendan Nelson has reinforced the Coalition’s opposition to the removal of the small business exemption from unfair dismissal claims in a speech to a national small business summit in Sydney today.

In a strong pitch for the allegiance of business owners, Nelson told the Council of Small Business of Australia national summit the exemption has been central to achieving Australia’s current low level of unemployment.

“We feel very strongly about the exemption from unfair dismissal laws for small business; we will take a strong stand on that in opposition and in government,” Nelson says.

The Coalition also remains committed to individual statutory agreements backed by a no-disadvantage test, strong freedom of association laws and the retention of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, Nelson says.

He also criticised Labor for recent cuts to small business programs such as Commercial Ready and the Small Business Field Officer program, although he did not commit to fighting for their return.

“Contrary to what the Government would have us believe, these steps were not part of a program to take an axe to inefficient spending – it was just a case of the Government axing spending to people it felt it did not value,” Nelson says.

Nelson’s comments came after a speech from COSBOA chief executive Tony Steven in which he called for a massive increase in support for small business from all levels of government.

In the wake of yesterday’s small business advisory group meeting with Small Business Minister Craig Emerson, Steven also reaffirmed COSBOA’s strong support for the unfair dismissal exemption.

“We are closely working with the Small Business Minister on the fair dismissal code and this document must provide real protection to employers from go-away money,” Steven says.


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