Business groups talk up Labor positives

Australia’s business groups are today highlighting their ability to work constructively with Labor and small business spokesman Craig Emerson after Labor’s thumping election win on Saturday.

Council of Small Business of Australia chief executive Tony Steven said he was not disappointed with the Labor win.

“The Australian people have spoken and we will work with whoever is in office,” Steven says. “We would not be unhappy if Craig Emerson were to become small business minister. We’ve had a good relationship with him and expect that would continue.”

Steven says he would like to see small business elevated to a Cabinet position in the new government and is hopeful that Labor will be responsive to small business hopes for further competition law reform.

And, according to Steven, COSBOA is likely to take a place on Labor’s small business consultation group, putting it in a strong position to have a say in the drafting of Labor’s IR laws.

“We’ve been assured by Dr Emerson that COSBOA will be part of that process, especially the drafting of the fair dismissal code,” Steven says.

Independent Contractors of Australia executive director Ken Phillips says while the group will continue to disagree on some points with Labor, they will continue to have a productive engagement with Labor.

“I’ve got to say we’re feeling fairly comfortable with them at this stage, as long as they hold to the statements they’ve made. While we disagree on one or two things, overall I’d say its looking fairly positive.”

Australian Hotels Association director of national affairs Bill Healy also hopes to have a good working relationship with Labor – despite having been one of the business groups that backed an advertising campaign arguing against changes to the current industrial relations regime earlier in the year.

“We did put money into the advertising campaign, but that was a policy thing, not a political thing,” Healy says. “We valued the relationship we’ve had with the (previous) government we’ve had over last 11 years, but we’re still optimistic we can build a strong relationship with the new government, and given the very strong working relationships we have with state Labor governments we think we will be OK,” Healy says.

The NSW Business Chamber is another group that, despite opposing Labor’s industrial relations policy during the campaign, is now looking forward to constructive engagement.

“On IR, we recognise that the new government has a mandate that they will use to implement change in coming months, and we’ll be looking to work together to get some good outcomes on that,” NSW Business Chamber spokesman Paul Ritchie says.


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