Minister, retail boss squabble over effect of modern awards

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Minister, retail boss squabble over effect of modern awards

Small Business Minister Craig Emerson has accused a retailer representative of not telling the truth about the government’s response to his claims of job losses caused by modern awards.

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Small Business Minister Craig Emerson has accused a retailer representative of not telling the truth about the government’s response to his claims of job losses caused by modern awards.
 
During a heated exchange on Brisbane radio, Emerson referred to claims by Scott Driscoll, national executive director of The Retailers Association, that Government officials had sought information from him on what the job consequences of the new IR laws would be in the retail sector.
 
Clarity re losses
 
‘They've made an approach to my office and asked for further clarity as to exactly what the extent of the jobs losses is going to amount to under the new IR laws,’ Driscoll said on Radio 4BC.
 
‘So a week or so into the new IR laws being in place, the Government now wants to know what effect they're going to have.’
 
When Emerson was asked whether he was concerned these IR changes impacting badly on Driscoll's constituents, small business’, he said he was ‘concerned about the truth’.
 
‘Wild claims’
 
‘And I haven't heard a lot of that just lately, including from Scott Driscoll just now, and certainly since before Christmas with his wild claims,’ Emerson said.
 
‘The basis of the conversation that he referred to, and you did, with the departmental officers is simply that they wanted to understand the methodology that Scott Driscoll has employed in his estimate of 3000 job losses, and he hasn't provided that information.’
 
‘That's why they asked him for the information, to test his proposition, his approach, and his calculations. And he hasn't been cooperative in that.’
 
‘Absolute rubbish’
 
‘Instead, he's put out a statement or talked to AAP saying, oh, they don't know and they've rung him up to find out, which is absolute rubbish.’
 
Yesterday, Driscoll accused IR Minister Julia Gillard of ‘posturing and seemingly complete confusion’ over the effect of the new IR laws on retail jobs.
 
Emerson said it was wrong to imply that the new laws would introduce penalty rates for weekend work.
 
‘[There is] a Saturday and Sunday loading at present — and there will be under modern awards,’ he said. ‘There is, again, there is a loading now. It does go up. It goes up in five instalments over five years beginning on 1 July, not on 1 January as Scott Driscoll has said. So it will be phased in over five years.’
 
Loading goes up
 
‘So I'm just saying that it's something that exists now. Yes, in this particular industry it does go up, but let's look at the context of this.’
 
‘At present, and for a best part of a century we've had 4000 different awards. We're going to have 122. This is a major reform, a major simplification and it's a simplification for small business and large businesses.’
 
Driscoll subsequently attacked Emerson for disputing the fact that an Access Economics report that the government was using for its claim the modern awards would mean 5000 new jobs had only surveyed four small businesses.
 
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