By David Bates

Our new PM is all about buzz words: innovation, agility, flexibility. I could go on (really, I could, he has lots of them). But talking the talk is easy, walking the talk takes real courage.

Take industrial relations for example. So far it’s been a mixed bag on the walk the talk front.

First, he sacked the Abbott Government’s highly-regarded Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson. Now to be clear, I wasn’t a big fan of Billson. While he certainly did much to advance the interests of small business owners, he was virtually silent on the most critical issue facing Australian small businesses: our nation’s archaic and hopelessly complex employment laws.

Rather than sacking Billson, PM Turnbull could have directly linked his commitment to innovation, agility, and flexibility to the need to liberate small businesses from the wrath of the Fair Work laws. This could have been easily achieved by making it clear to Billson that his remit included making the case for workplace relations reform.

Now, new Minister Kelly O’Dwyer will need to start from scratch. She’s certainly up to the task, but to some extent she’ll be reinventing the wheel, unless reform of employment laws (so far as they impact on small business) is made a core part of her work.
Second, PM Turnbull sacked Employment Minister Eric Abetz. To that I say, well done.

Senator Abetz had comprehensively failed to advance the case for meaningful change of the Fair Work laws, and his inability to reform either the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) or the Fair Work Commission (FWC) – truly two of this country’s most ineffective Commonwealth bodies – left many employer advocates deeply dismayed.

It will now be up to the new Employment Minister, Michaelia Cash, to champion these long overdue reforms.

Sadly, however, the new PM’s first full interview on the 7:30 program does not bode well for those of us who have had enough of union corruption and many union officials’ complete disregard for Australian law. When asked by presenter Leigh Sales how his commitment to freedom and flexibility translated into workplace relations reform, our new PM said he wanted to introduce changes without going to war with the unions.

Two words for you PM - good luck.