New IR laws keep everyone guessing


THEY have been described as the most dramatic changes to the Australian industrial relations system for more than a century, but of the many Clarence Valley businesses contacted by The Daily Examiner yesterday, only a few said they had any understanding of them.

It was the same story with people in the street, with none confident enough to offer an opinion on the new laws.

Businesses throughout the Valley contacted by the Examiner yesterday said they hadn't kept up to date with the new regulations or did not know how they would effect them.

Those views are reflected in surveys conducted recently by Australian Business Limited (ABL).

"We surveyed our members throughout NSW about six to eight weeks ago and what they found is only 13 per cent of businesses felt they thoroughly understood the changes," ABL public affairs manager Paul Ritchie said.

Mr Ritchie said those surveys suggested most employers would be content to wait and see how the new system panned out.

"Only three per cent (of survey respondents) said they would make immediate changes, another 20 per cent said changes in the next 12 months to three years, and 75 per cent said no changes or not sure," he said.

But those businesses who were abreast of the situation believed they would benefit local proprietors.

Home Hardware Maclean co-owner Nick Clark said he thought the changes would provide more flexibility for workers and owners.

"We small business owners have been asking for help from the government for a long time because a lot of times our hands have been tied up with predicaments that we were in because we couldn't go that one step further," he said. "(But) now with the legislation, it aids in making sure we have the right people in the right spots."

One Yamba business owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said time was needed to judge the effects of the new laws.

"I don't think anyone really understands it fully because there are so many different loopholes and so many different parts of it, but for the average person you understand as much as you need to understand," he said.

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