One Nation support for change

A WIN for former Liberal MLC Greg Smith may not prove the panacea employers were hoping for.

Mr Smith is disputing the outcome of the February 10 State election, claiming the method for distributing votes to candidates in the Mining and Pastoral Legislative Council area was flawed.

Mr Smith lost his seat in the Mining and Pastoral Region to Greens WA member Robin Chapple. He is confident his case will succeed in the Court of Disputed Returns.

“We have an indisputable argument, but if it was a cut and dried case, it wouldn’t need to go to court,” Mr Smith said.

Some employer groups believe his success will let One Nation wrest the balance of power in WA’s Legislative Council from Greens WA and help block Labor’s plans to scrap WA’s Workplace Agreements Act.

Because of the Greens’ socialist leanings, Labor virtually has control of both houses of WA Parliament – the first time this has happened in about 100 years.

But giving One Nation the balance of power will not help small businesses keep workplace agreements.

One Nation small business spokes-man Frank Hough said the party was probably closer aligned to Labor’s industrial relations policy.

“We’re in favour of collective bargaining,” Mr Hough said.

“We’d rather see a business approach to collective bargaining. I think the unions are more responsible now than they used to be in yesteryear.”

Fears abound that Labor’s proposed labour relations laws will push businesses into a collective bargaining regime whether they or their employees want it or not.

Labor’s proposed EEAs will not have to match the award, but employees must be no worse off under EEA conditions than if they were on the award.

Business groups believe the mechanisms required to set up the EEAs will be made too bureaucratic to make them practical organs for employers.

There also is talk that EEAs will be invalid if there is a collective agreement in place covering an industry sector.

Greens WA is opposed to any form of individual contracts.

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