Keystart restructure

REMEMBER the drama surrounding the premium property tax?

It was only a year ago that Treasurer Eric Ripper sought to tax owners of valuable residential properties to raise about $12 million.

A political backlash sent him back to the drawing board.

Now I don’t want jump to conclusions but, 12 months later, WA Business News has unearthed some subtle changes to the Keystart program that could earn the Government even more than it was ready to reap from this successful program.

At least $10 million a year, and up to $20 million, could be available to Treasury.

That restructuring was apparently pushed by Department of Housing and Works boss Greg Joyce, though the board, which includes new appointee and former State politician Ian Taylor has, at the very least, backed the proposal.

I wonder if the dreaded property tax debacle didn’t spark a hunt in government for less politically damaging ways to raise revenue.

And maybe there are a few more programs being restructured that we haven’t heard about yet.

A civil debate

WA Business News last week hosted a group of industrial relations-linked professionals to debate the new WA IR legislation.

Getting the head of the State’s peak union body, Stephanie Mayman, in a room with industry heavyweights such as Michael McLean of the Master Builders Association, Peter Fitzpatrick from the Motor Traders Association and several outspoken IR consultants had the potential for a fiery exchange.

But it wasn’t like that.

The reality is that the presence of both sides probably toned down the rhetoric and got to the heart of the issues that business faces during the introduction of these new laws.

Some of the key things to note were the differing opinions on award modernisation and the general agreement that union recognition in currently non-unionised workforces was likely to be more damaging than any wage claims.

I would like to be able to take heart from this discussion and imagine that when you place both sides across the table there is the potential for truly rational debate.

I suspect we’ll be writing a lot about IR during the coming months, I just hope those stories don’t make it overseas, where our much needed export markets might see WA heading back to the bad old days.

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