By David Bates

'Inconsequential’ perfectly describes the 985 page-long (yes, really, 985!) draft report into Australia’s workplace relations systems published by the Productivity Commission.

This inconsequential draft report is so large you’ll struggle to download it if your business is in regional Australia and you rely on the NBN!

But why would a business owner bother to read it anyway? There is nothing in this report (yes, really, nothing) that will do anything to meaningfully assist the tens of thousands of hard-working small business owners who are crippled by the world’s most hopelessly complex employment laws.

The first hint that this report is inconsequential is found in the introductory section which describes the history of Australia’s employment laws. On page 73, the Commission writes:

“…Australia appears to give more weight than other Anglo-Saxon countries to elaborate rules about WR processes and, most particularly, to the centralised determination of minimum wages and conditions for many employees. This then requires a complex legal and institutional architecture that is distinctive to Australia.”

That’s a nice way of describing the shambles we have all inherited. What the Commission should actually have written is that we have the most ridiculous complex, unrelentingly inconsistent, and overly regulated employment laws in the developed world.

Small businesses have simply had enough of these laws. Most employers (including me) don’t want a return to the WorkChoices era – we just want common sense to prevail, and for the endless partisanship on industrial relations to finally be brought to an end (as it has largely been in NZ, Canada, the UK, South Africa and most of Europe).

How much longer will small business owners have to do battle with so-called Modern Awards which are better suited to the operations of the nation’s largest corporations?

How many more hours will be wasted by small business owners while they try to understand the 800 plus pages of the Fair Work Act?

How many more small business employers will feel forced into paying ‘go-away’ money to aggrieved ex-employees who lodge unfair dismissal claims even though they aren’t even legally eligible to lodge the claim in the first place?

These are all questions that the Productivity Commission has conveniently ignored, despite having 985 pages to explore and conclusively answer them.

Every small business owner in the land should rightly feel let down, angry, and fed-up at this Report’s complete failure to address their concerns. This Commonwealth Government – just like the one before it – appears to be all talk and no action when it comes to helping small business battlers.