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Business responds to NSW ALP small business policy

15 March, 2007

NSW’s largest business organisation NSW Business Chamber said the release of a number of initiatives for NSW small businesses are welcome, however the scope of the announcement ignored many significant challenges facing NSW small businesses.

“As initiatives go, they will all be welcome, but I am concerned about the lack of a comprehensive four year plan to improve the competitive position of NSW small businesses” said Kevin MacDonald, CEO of NSW Business Chamber.

“Take for instance, the car registration initiative, it will be welcome by small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), but the real policy challenge in NSW is not a lack of employers employing apprentices, but the lowest apprenticeship completion rates in Australia”.

“We have to make three year apprenticeships the norm in NSW, rather than the exception. We have been too slow to remove the shackles from the operation of apprenticeships in NSW.

“If you wanted to encourage employers to employ more apprentices the best thing the Government could do would be to repeal the legislation it introduced in 2006 that make apprentices under the age of 18 subject to State industrial relation legislation and re-introduces unfair dismissal legislation. This legislation is a real disincentive to employers who might want to employ an apprentice under the age of 18. 

MacDonald said he welcomed the Government’s announcements regarding red tape and regulation.

“The Premier has worked hard to identify areas of red tape that can be cut.  This announcement continues the Government’s good work in this area. We believe the next step in this process is the introduction of “one in, one out” which has been introduced by the Blair and Bracks Governments.

MacDonald said the Premier had correctly rejected the approach of the previous Premier in relation to Workers Compensation premiums.

“We have seen a 20% cut in 18 months – this equates to a yearly $560 million cut in costs for business in NSW. At the same time as this has occurred, the performance of the Scheme has improved with the deficit totally eliminated.

MacDonald said the Government was being mischievous in claiming it would rapidly implement reforms in OH&S.

“We have had a review process going on now for nearly two years. Employers are concerned that the Government walked away from the John Della Bosca Draft Bill which would have lifted a burden off NSW businesses.

“In OH&S we have the highest rates of fines and prosecutions in Australia, but injury rates higher than the national average (Source: ABS). That alone says we have something wrong with the system.

“The current system is too adversarial, focuses on prosecutions rather than prevention – and produces safety outcomes worse than the Australian average.  Employers are treated as if they are guilty until proven innocent, and it is a primary reason why many operations seek to locate outside NSW.

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