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We got off to an early start for the final day of the Vodafone National Small Business Summit today, with the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business, the Hon John Barilaro MP, presenting at the AMEX Shop Small breakfast.

During his presentation Mr Barilaro announced an Australian-first commitment to pay small businesses contracted by the NSW Government, “NSW will lead the nation by reducing our payment time frames to 20 days by the end of 2018 and then to five days by the end of 2019,” said Mr Barilaro.

Lisa Belcher, AMEX, presented on the Shop Small campaign for 2018. Shop Small recognises and supports small businesses, acknowledging it’s the strengths of the relationships with the community, that create a prosperous environment. Statistics showed 70% of small businesses wanted to use local suppliers and had an average of 5 partnerships.

In what has become a fixture and highlight of the Summit, the regulations session, moderated by Kate Carnell, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, brought together key Australian regulators to discuss changes that might impact the small business community.

The panel included; John Price, Australian Securities and Investments Commission; Rod Sims, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission; Chris Jordan, Australian Taxation Office; Sandra Parker, Fair Work Ombudsman; David Locke, Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

The super session heard from each panellist before opening questions up to the floor. Mr Jordan, ATO, revealed they are working towards 2024, with easier online systems, with a focus on trust and confidence. Mr Price, said ASIC’s focus was on small business - assisting with registrations, protecting through surveillance, and engaging with the small business community.

Mr Sims, ACCC, focused on a big issue for small business, unfair contract terms and the penalties for those companies not complying. Ms Parker, Fair Work Ombudsman, spoke on the Small Business Helpline and Small Business Showcase, and the assets available for small businesses in Australia. And finally, Mr Locke, said AFCA will launch officially on November 1, and recognises that small business owners are not experts in all financial products, which is why they will offer a free service for employers and employees, giving advice and moderating financial matters relating to small business.

The Hon. Chris Bowen MP, Shadow Treasurer, said the important focus is on: “policy, a commitment to unity and stability.” He commented that we need to ‘restore good, traditional and stable cabinet processes to policy making and restore the independence and non-partisan nature of vital central economic policy making institutions: the Treasury and the Productivity Commission.

Touching on two areas, the first was on the NBN, 95% of all businesses have Internet access, with Internet income estimated to be worth $394 billion annually. Mr Bowen said, “The most fundamental change facing small businesses around the world is the rise of e-commerce. One of the most important tools for small businesses in particular is a well-functioning and cost effective NBN.”

Secondly, Mr Bowen spoke on tax saying, “Our Investment Guarantee will deliver an upfront 20% tax deduction, accelerating the depreciation on all investments in new assets, with the remaining deprecation to be undertaken in line with normal schedules. This will inject serious cash flow into all businesses around Australia.”

The Google panel was up next, seeing a Google expert and small business owners who have had success in using data to grow their businesses. The panellists, Basil Karam, Life Interiors; Stephen Lee, Marriage Celebrant; Margaret Hennessy, Dogue; and Rich Flanagan, Google Australia, revealed their unique business journeys, how Google and how having an online presence was vital to their success.

A hot topic for 2018, has been the Royal Banking Commission, as a result Anna Bligh, CEO, Australian Banking Association, spoke about the New Banking Code of Conduct, which has been approved by ASIC and will be implemented fully by July 1, 2019.

A heated debate with Ticky Fullerton, Sky News, Leanne Faulkner, Fortitude at Work, Christine Pope, Treasurer ATMS, Cathy McGowan MP, Member for Indi, and Madeline King MP, Shadow Minister Assisting for Small Business, and Peter Strong, COSBOA, took to the stage to look closely at Women in Business.

Following lunch and wrapping up the conference, Peter Strong and Mark McKenzie, presented the Small Business Champion of the Year to Natalie James, Former Fair Work Ombudsman. What a great two days of debate, discussion and presentations around small business. We would like to thank our sponsors, speakers and delegates who made the event come together.

See you next year in Melbourne!

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