Small business to bear brunt of IR law changes

The Albanese Labor government’s industrial relations legislation is a blatant attempt to destroy Australia’s small business sector.

Small business is critical to Australia’s economy and constitutes the backbone of most regional economies. There are about 2.5 million small businesses in the country, employing about 40% of the entire Australian workforce.

Unions and Labor have never liked small businesses, primarily because, in the past, the small business workforce has been very difficult to unionise. As Pauline Hanson herself has known for many years—because she’s been a small business owner—this is because the relationships between small business owners and their employees are often like family.

Labor’s IR legislation, with strong support from ACT Senator David Pocock and Tasmania’s Jacqui Lambie, is set to turn that completely around.

From July 1 of this year, small businesses will be required to accept the appointment of one or more of their employees as "union delegates" and to pay for their training by union bosses. These ‘delegates’ may not be interfered with in any way, and it’s not even known what power they will have because the Fair Work Commission will have the power to arbitrarily expand these powers.

Small businesses will also be forced to make retrenchment payments, whereas previously they were exempt in recognition of the financial liabilities that make small businesses more vulnerable than big companies. Many small businesses rely on casual labour, but the new laws will now make it very risky to employ casuals; any innocent mistake around entitlements could leave small businesses exposed to huge fines.

The changes will also force small businesses to take on yet another crushing and costly administrative burden: climate change reporting. Even if a small business won’t have to do it for themselves until 2027, they are often in supply arrangements with larger businesses that will be required to do climate impact reporting from July 1 this year, meaning small businesses will still need to undertake reporting.

The scary thing is that many small businesses are not even aware all of this is coming to bite them—hard.

One Nation has always supported Australian small businesses and will be working to oppose Labor’s transparent attempt to destroy the sector.