The GST is of far greater concern to small businesses than unfair dismissal laws, according to a new survey of businesses in the electorate of Federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott.

The survey of 100 businesses employing less than 20 staff in Mr Abbott’s northern Sydney electorate of Warringah was conducted last week by the ACTU’s call centre service MemberConnect.

The survey found 79% of small businesses said lack of need or insufficient work were their reasons for not recruiting more staff. 52% nominated the GST as the Government policy causing them most concern. Asked if their reasons for not hiring were “other” than those listed, not one respondent cited unfair dismissal laws.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow released the survey results in Melbourne today after Mr Abbott tabled a Bill in parliament to exempt small businesses from unfair dismissal laws.

“These findings provide more evidence disproving the Government’s claim that its unfair dismissal bill will create jobs. If the Government was serious about helping small business, it would do something about the GST,” Ms Burrow said.

“There is no valid reason for this Bill, which would further undermine the job security of more than two million Australian workers by allowing them to be sacked unfairly and unreasonably.”

Ms Burrow said the survey results were consistent with previous studies showing unfair dismissal laws had a negligible impact on hiring intentions and employment levels. The Commonwealth’s comprehensive AWIRS Survey in 1995 found 0.9% of small businesses nominated unfair dismissal laws as a reason for not hiring staff.

“Employees in small business should have the same legal rights as everyone else in the workforce. Why should some employees have their job security and legal rights removed just because they work in businesses with fewer employees?”

The ACTU is campaigning with a coalition of community, union, student and advocacy groups to have the Bill defeated in the Senate.