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WA Election 2017—Some important issues

Friday, January 20, 2017

Western Australia goes to the polls on 11 March. It’s looking like a cliffhanger.
One Nation is polling at 11 per cent and fielding candidates in 45 of the 59 Lower House seats and in all Upper House seats. Its polling numbers are double those of the Greens. There’s a strong prospect that after the election government will only be formed with the support of One Nation.

We’ve worked hard in WA to achieve small business protections, particularly for construction subbies. We’re huge supporters of the small business protection Construction Code introduced late last year by the Barnett Liberal government. In WA Business News our Executive Director, Ken Phillips, said that the involvement of the Small Business Commission also helped address the balance of power between head contractors and sub-contractors.

Ken also said, “I don’t think people in the industry, either the construction or the development industry, have a remote comprehension of the potential impact of this”. That’s why we’re running an information event in Perth on 22 February. (Info and bookings here.) We’ve called on Labor to retain the Code if elected.

But we’re worried by Labor’s work safety policy. Our reading of Labor’s formal policy is that it will introduce corporate manslaughter legislation. This would be a huge backward step and a threat to WA small business people in particular. When this sort of law operated in NSW, a small business plumber was convicted even though the judge said the plumber did nothing wrong. The judge was upset that he was obliged to convict because of the design of the law. Yet WA Labor proposes to head in this direction. This is most worrying. We’ve done a detailed assessment explaining our concerns.

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