Small business has featured prominently in the first public comments by Brendan Nelson and Julie Bishop as the new Liberal leadership team.
Both opposition leader Nelson and his deputy Bishop emphasized the role of small business as the powerhouse of the Australian economy and a key source of new jobs.
It’s important to our country and particularly to my state of Western Australia that there is a political force in this country that will stand up for small business… in this country,” Bishop says.
The comments suggest Nelson and Bishop are positioning the Liberal Party to oppose Labor’s commitment to get rid of the exemption from unfair dismissal laws for businesses with less than 100 employees.
While Nelson says he will not make any commitments on industrial relations until he has seen the legislation Labor proposes, he has previously said that he would he would oppose “any retreat at all from unfair dismissal law provisions”.
Nelson has an unusual background for a Liberal leader. He was previously a member of the Labor Party and once boasted he “had never voted Liberal in his life.” Prior to entering parliament he was the president of the Australian Medical Association.
Bishop has trod a more conventional path to the Liberal deputy leadership, having a had a successful career with national corporate law firm Clayton Utz before entering Parliament.