18/04/2012 - 10:57

Don't be 'anti-market': industry to Greens

18/04/2012 - 10:57


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 A leading business group has urged the Australian Greens to take a more centrist line when it comes to industrial relations and set aside their "anti-market platform".

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) chief executive Peter Anderson said many in the business community believe the minority federal party has been neither responsible nor balanced in its approach to the nation's market-based economy or business regulation.

"My message to the new Greens leadership is that no balance of power party should try to mould the economy in their own image or world view, and certainly should not seek to do so through Senate power or via industrial relations laws that are central to jobs and private sector business confidence," he said in a speech in Canberra on Wednesday.

Tasmanian Senator Christine Milne last week was named the new leader of the Australian Greens, succeeding Bob Brown who will retire from federal politics in June, and has said one of her main priorities would be to better engage with the business community.

Mr Anderson said he was keen to speak to the Greens new leadership team, which includes its only lower house MP Adam Brandt who has also become deputy.

"I recognise that it may be a tall order for business to persuade the Greens to set aside their anti-market platform," he said during his address to the Australian Labour and Employment Relations Association.

"But what I do urge is that the Greens, in the exercise of their balance of power functions in the Senate, take a more centrist position on specific bills, given that much of their ideology is not the majority view of the community."

Mr Anderson said this was especially so in relation to workplace regulation.

"Industrial relations legislation needs to get the detailed attention it deserves - and in this area detail matters because the system increasingly regulates almost every aspect of workplace behaviour with process not just minimum standards," he said.

While he disagreed with the party's opinions and platform, Mr Anderson said he also respected their views.

"But I will expect more sensitivity to business views than we have seen to date," he said.

Mr Anderson also said the federal Labor minority government had failed to deliver good outcomes of fair processes on industrial relations.

He said laws, which have passed, to boost the superannuation guarantee levy and abolish the Australian Building Construction Commissioner were poor ones.

"These political realities mean that industry is forced to still look to the Senate for that calmer, more considered process of review and weighing of the argument, clause by clause," he said.

"This is the role the Greens need to play but it is not possible if party ideology remains their operating principle as legislators."


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