Is something happening in Canberra around small business? There have been some significant changes and actions over the last 6 months. While these changes are good we know there is more to do. But it is worth looking at the changes, which include:
- The Minister for Small Business, Brendan O’Connor, is in Cabinet. This doesn’t guarantee that we’ll get what we want but we have a voice at the top table.
- We will soon have a Small Business Commissioner at the national level. There are Small Business Commissioners in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia (and excellent people they are too). This is significant. Momentum from this group cannot be under estimated. We do want the national Commissioner to have more power than currently proposed but that is something that will be dealt with over time.
- The Federal Treasury has recently announced a restructure and have created a Small Business Tax Division. This might seem to be a bit too much attention but in actual fact it means that the impact of new taxes and processes on our sector will improve.
- The Department of Innovation has also recently restructured and have created a Small Business Division. This division will include all the small business programs and activities and means, again, more focus on process and policy for our sector.
- A letter from Penny Wong’s department (the deregulation part) went to all government agencies asking them to identify any compliance demands they have on small business and what they can remove.
- There is now a twice yearly “Whole of Government” round table where senior executives from government agencies discuss small business issues – and only small business issues.
- COSBOA is represented on the COAG Business Leaders Forum, one of only four representatives, the others being from BCA, AIG and ACCI. I am accompanied by our Deputy Chair Amanda Lynch from the REIA, at these meetings.
- I am the deputy Chairman of the National Small Business Advisory Committee. This committee is still establishing its role but more and more will be to advise the Minister on Small Business issues.
- I am the only industry representative on the Government’s Superannuation Roundtable where I continue to harass the superannuation funds and demand that they get their act together on administration of collection processes. This is a slow battle as many of the funds have just taken small business for granted and treated us with scant respect. I point this out to them often.
- The ACCC has revamped its small business advisory committee (thank you to Rod Sims and Michael Schaper) and the meetings are now truly focused on the needs of small business and we have constructive discussions on what changes we believe should happen.
- ASIC has created a new group within its structure that focuses solely on small business and our needs – it is in the development phase but, again, this is a good outcome where better understanding of our needs will develop.They are currently surveying small business people about their needs – to complete the survey click here.
- There will soon be a Parliamentary Friendship Group for Small Business. This has been convened by Gai Brodtmann, (Labor Party) Member for Canberra (ACT) and Scott Buchholz (Liberal National Party) member for Wright (QLD). This is an excellent outcome that means we will be heard in all the party rooms. (FYI This group cannot have Members who are in the Ministry or shadow Ministry.) Maybe you should ask your local member if he or she will join this group?
There are other changes that are taking place in the Fair Work Ombudsman’s office, in Fair Work Australia, in the ATO and other agencies. I will give more information in future newsletters.
These are important structural changes and representations that give some hope that future policy developments have true consideration of effects on small business people and we are to be found at the highest level of representation.
But we still need to get the changes we need, particularly in contract law, competition policy, workplace relations, superannuation, OH&S and all the other issues. I and we at the Council know these changes are important but we also know that this is just the beginning – a very good beginning – but we have a lot more to achieve. See all our policies HERE.
To keep the momentum going we need a strong organisation and strong membership. The Council’s membership has grown in the last twelve months but our resources continue to be challenged (like most small business organisations!). If you want to join the fight Click Here!