Industrial relations remains at the forefront of business issues after opposition leader Tony Abbott’s decision to rule out any changes to Labor’s Fair Work laws, including unfair dismissal provisions for small business.
Industrial relations remains at the forefront of business issues after opposition leader Tony Abbott’s decision to rule out any changes to Labor’s Fair Work laws, including unfair dismissal provisions for small business. Mr Abbott says business is sick of constant change but he also wants to defuse this potentially negative issue.
Considered something of a sleeper issue in the campaign is the potential for about 2 million independent contractors to react to government plans to change the tax definition of their income, forcing them to identify and separately recognise revenue from labour as distinct from that derived from assets. The problem for those opposed to this policy is that it’s hard to reach and unify the self-employed who, as their name suggests, are fiercely independent.
Climate change is another area where a lack of change is not necessarily good for business. The government has been wishy washy about its intentions, leaving the business sector uncertain about what to expect if an Emissions Trading Scheme is brought back on the table for 2013 as Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised. The Liberals, on the other hand, want to undertake ‘direct action’, which removes the incentives for many that have invested in the carbon economy.
Immigration cuts promised by the opposition, and alluded to by Ms Gillard in references to sustainable population, are grating on business. Whether it’s retailers looking for market expansion, the construction sector that relies on residential building, or resources
groups that need more skilled labour, it’s hard to find a major business voice that thinks cutting back Australia’s migrant intake is a good idea.
The Minerals Resource Rent Tax has been resurrected as an issue as the junior sector reacts to a deal that suited the big miners. Labor needs the tax to pay for other promises – such as cutting company tax and increasing the superannuation levy – but almost all the miners outside the big three believe it will cost too much and may well be expanded in the future. Mr Abbott has pledged to axe the tax but that may have limited traction outside the key mining states.
Environmental issues have yet to play out beyond the climate change issue, but the rise of the Greens is worrying many in business. Labor has done a preferences deal which is likely to hand the Greens the balance of power in the Senate, increasing its potential leverage in strengthening environmental protections. Miners, pastoralists and other primary industry sectors are worried about the impact on their businesses, as are some in property development.