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Kierath legacy safe

OUTGOING Coalition Minister Graham Kierath – the Liberal’s architect of industrial reform – has dismissed Labor plans to reverse many of his decisions, claiming the new government will be hard pressed to change anything.

“The threat will mainly be symbolic because there are too many businesses, too much industry that have established a competitive edge through Workplace Agreements which will disappear if they change it too much,” Mr Kierath told Business News.

“So I think they will do some window dressing but in substance leave a lot of the changes there.

“I’m sure there are some who would like to dismantle it completely but it is too wide spread to dismantle it completely.”

But Mr Kierath believes industrial relations are still at historic crossroads.

“The Government can either turn away from the major advances that were made or turn back to the bad old days when we had high levels of industrial disputes and high levels of inflation,” he said.

For Mr Kierath, it was the dysfunctional industrial relation system that motivated him to enter politics. Twelve years on and that passion is still there – Mr Kierath believes more could still be done to improve the flexibility of employment relations.

If ever there was an indication of what WA businesses could be facing, one has to look no further than Victoria where the change in government has already impacted on business confidence.

“All my reports from Victoria are that projects have slowed down, industrial disputes have increased, you can’t get to see many of the Ministers there unless you go through an ex-union official and there have been some major employers and businesses that have cancelled investment decisions in Victoria,” Mr Kierath said.

After 12 years in parliament, the last eight as Minister, Mr Kierath is not completely cured of politics. He has already received a couple of approaches for him to re-enter parliament if an opportunity arose

through a by-election or at the next election.

Mr Kierath said the days following his personal defeat at the polls had been extremely difficult and had been like going though a grieving process. He describes commentating on the election night, while watching his seat fall, as one of the hardest things he has had to deal with.

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