Small Business Policy The Two Main Parties Stand
We are only four weeks away from the federal election, and the major parties small business policies are starting to take shape. Although much of the information in these policy packages is familiar, it is worth looking at the different policies and how they might impact small businesses.
The Business Policies Of The Government
The Australian Labor Party’s (ALP), has repackaged its past announcements to focus its small business policy. These include the incorporation of the small business portfolio to the inner cabinet, and the appointment Mark Brennan as Federal Small Business Commissioner.
Both of these initiatives will be welcome. Mark Brennan is a great choice for this position. He does not have the necessary legislative power or departmental resources to fill this role. This is something I previously wrote about in.
The problem for the government is the constant revolving door effect of small business ministers since the 2010 federal election. First was Senator Nick Sherry (2010)-2011, then Mark Arbib (2011)-2012, followed by Brendan O’Connor (2012)-2013, Chris Bowen (2013), and now Gary Gray.
The continual rotation of ministers, even though the ministerial position was move to the inner cabinet after Brendan O’Connor’s appointment, is still a problem. This does not promote good policy formulation, and it reduces the minister’s ability get to the top of the portfolio.
Benefits From The Business Government
Small firms can also receive tax benefits from the government in the form the tax reforms that allow them to instant asset write off (to be limit at $6,500) and the tax carry back reforms. These announcements made in the 2012 federal budget by Wayne Swan. These are combine with small business support via Enterprise Connect and the help line.
The ALP also proposes that the Council of Australian Business be included in the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) dialogue. This isn’t a new idea. COSBOA was granted a seat at COAG 2012 discussions that were focused on “meeting red tape challenge”.
Fair Work Australia will also be subject to the ALP’s requirements that employees who make unreasonable claims to Fair Work Australia must pay their costs. Although this is a good initiative, it does not address the core issues of the federal industrial relations system.
The Productivity Commission has given the task of examining the relationship between regulators and small businesses. This policy was announce by Brendan O’Connor in December 2012. It is intend to produce a report card on the effects of state and federal regulations on small-business costs.
In July, the draft report of the Productivity Commission went public. There are some valuable observations and recommendations in it. Many of the recommendations are clear and focus on government agencies making regulations more accessible to small businesses, especially sole traders. These recommendations are a good starting point for any new government. However, it will difficult to actually get these things done.
The Policies Of The Opposition
The Liberal National Party (LNP), however, has a longer list of policies that are design to attract small businesses. Contrary to Labor, the Liberals had a consistent Shadow minister for small business in Bruce Billson. He was appoint in 2010.
This month’s The Coalition’s Policy for Small Business statement outlines 23 policy initiatives. These initiatives can divided into at most four areas: advocacy; regulatory reforms; financial measures, direct support and infrastructure.
The LNP proposes that the portfolio of the small business minister be elevate to the inner cabinet as part of its advocacy strategy. Labor has done this before, but the key difference is the relocation of small business portfolios to the Department of Treasury. This is a unique location and could cause some difficulties in implementation, but the relocation could give the small business area greater influence within Canberra.
The Board of Taxation, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Snd Fair Work Australia have also given the opportunity to nominate representatives from small businesses into key economic bodies. The appointment of a Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman will further enhance this power.