In an address to the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia in Canberra last night, the Prime Minister, John Howard, returned to the issue of the unfair dismissal laws, describing them as “a blot on the escutcheon of small business”.
He urged small business to lobby other parties in the Senate and promised that the government would resubmit the laws if they are rejected by the upper house.
Howard’s comments indicate that the government is preparing the ground for a double dissolution election trigger over the coming year.
In his speech, Howard said: “I want to assure all of you that we will not weaken or tire in our efforts to secure the passage through the Senate of further reforms of the unfair dismissal laws. They remain to me one of the great blots on the escutcheon of small business. I hold strongly to the belief that if we could get rid of the restrictions we’re trying to get rid of we would see more jobs generated in the small business community. There is no reason, according to our current advice and according to current economic indicators, there is no reason why unemployment in Australia can’t fall to a figure approaching six per cent by the end of this year.