Abbott's enterprise masterplan

Tony Abbott's new small business policies will meet much resistance. But combined with Campbell Newman's IR reforms, they would lead to a nation-changing surge in employment by smaller enterprises.

I am not sure Tony Abbott fully realises just how nation changing his small enterprise policies will be. And if you combine the policies of Abbott and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman then you will have an undoubted monumental change.

Victoria is likely to follow Queensland and that will force the hand of other states. All Australian enterprises – whether they are large or small – will have to take notice.

For many, a complete change of strategy will be required.

Yesterday, I set out a series of nation changing plans proposed by Tony Abbott and his Coalition (Abbott's controversial new foundation for Australia, January 29).

But what will happen to small enterprises is so dramatic that it required a separate commentary.

If Abbott and Newman carry out their plans we will see an unprecedented surge in employment by smaller enterprises.

As Ken Phillip’s explains, Abbott expects it to generate 500,000 new jobs from his plan alone (The contract key that could swing small business, January 29).

In essence, Abbott plans to extend the unfair contracts legislation that exists for consumers into the world of small enterprises. Currently large companies routinely demand unfair contracts from their small suppliers. I pointed to several instances earlier this month (Abbott shrugs off Labor's small business squeeze, January 15).

In these cases, a multitude of large enterprises are demanding unrealistic payment terms from their small suppliers in reaction to Wayne Swan’s accelerated tax provisions. Other groups are demanding horrendous rights over retail stock. The large enterprises know they have unfettered power and simply don’t realise that what they are demanding is unfair.

If Abbott wins the election and carries out his plan most Australian large enterprises will find themselves before the unfair contracts tribunal looking very stupid. It will affect profits.

Tony Abbott will be the subject of unprecedented pressure and, if he becomes prime minister, it will be a test of his strength.

Fascinatingly, Kevin Rudd was elected to power on almost exactly the same policy, but buckled under the extreme pressure from both unions and big corporations. The unions know that these unfair contracts force people to work for large organisations and they are therefore available to be unionised. The large company executives favour unfair contracts because it increases their power and helps make money.

If that were all that was happening it would represent a big change.

But the Queensland premier has invited submissions for his plan to retake control of industrial relations covering unincorporated enterprises (How Newman's IR revolution will flourish, December 20.)

The floods may delay him but Campbell Newman is dedicated to carrying the plan. It’s likely that there will be a standard minimum hourly rate with no shift allowances or penalties, but there will be overtime. The standard rate may even enable some workers to gain higher pay. There will be procedures for dismissal with a tribunal where no lawyers or unions can be present. It will simplify the employment of people by unincorporated enterprises. Victoria will follow. New South Wales will have problems in the upper house but my guess is that when it sees the surge of employment in its neighbouring states it too will follow.

Combine this with Abbott’s plan to slash Commonwealth red tape and bureaucratic rules and give states much greater powers over the environment and other approvals (provided they too go simple) and you can see a different country emerging. People don’t start businesses because it is too hard and they get rapped. Suddenly the game will change.

But its not all one-way, particularly when it comes to female employment.

Abbott says: "We need a better childcare system that is less geared towards eight-to-six institutional care and we need a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme that gives women a better chance to combine families and careers.

"Australia is one of only two countries where parental leave is not based on people’s actual wage. If people receive their actual wage while sick or on holiday, they should also receive their actual wage while on parental leave. Parental leave, after all, is supposed to be a workplace entitlement, not a welfare one.”

There will be many who disagree with Abbott’s polices, but the current ALP line, which says he has no policies, is nonsense. If he wins Abbott changes the nation.