Small Business Being Sold ‘A Free Gift With Every Purchase’



In her National Press Club Speech last week the Prime Minister stated that she wanted the focus to be on policy, so that the electors, when it came time to vote, would have at their fingertips the policies, with Costings, of both parties, so that they could make an informed choice when they cast their vote.

So it is in this spirit that I am going to devote some of my posts this year to comparing the policies on offer from both parties, Labor and Liberal, and National, where it is relevant.

Firstly, I would like to start with Small Business.

The Gillard Government have made a lot of headway with the Small Business sector. They have brought the Small Business Minister into Cabinet, and introduced a raft of positive policies meant to benefit Small Businesses.

As of this past week, the Minister for Small Business in the Federal Labor Government has changed from Brendan O’Connor to now being Chris Bowen. He will be up against Bruce Billson from the Liberal Party.

However, the policies will not change and I have been taking a look at what has been proposed for the Small Business Sector by both parties.

Let me turn my attention to the Liberal Party and Bruce Billson.

On Bruce’s website there is a statement of policy principles:

Small business is the driver of Australia’s economy, underpinning growth and innovation and providing jobs for millions of Australians. Unlike Labor, Bruce Billson and the Liberals stand for real action to keep costs down and protect small businesses from union bullying. We will always back small business to grow our economy and create jobs.

What does this mean? Let’s unpack:

Motherhood statement: Small business is the driver of Australia’s economy, underpinning growth and innovation and providing jobs for millions of Australians.

Can’t argue with that, though I don’t believe that the Liberal Party are unique in believing that.

However, what they uniquely believe is contained in the next sentence of the statement of principles:

Unlike Labor, Bruce Billson and the Liberals stand for real action to keep costs down and protect small businesses from union bullying.

That is, the Liberal Party are four square behind the proprietors of small businesses, so that they may maximise their profits. This is not a bad thing, in and of itself. It is the way that they intend to encourage small businesses to go about it that is worrisome.

What are the ways that they want to achieve this?

The Liberal Party want to deunionise workplaces. This is the method they believe is appropriate to ‘keep costs down’ because it is only ‘Union bullying’, or, to put it another way, Unions fighting for the rights of employees to get decent pay and conditions in their jobs, that ‘puts costs up’. One has to reflect on this that not all costs going up is a bad thing for small business. Sometimes it’s the right and proper thing.

It’s simply not enough for small business to be lauded for ‘providing jobs for millions of Australians’. There also needs to be a debate within the community about the pay and conditions that come with those jobs. Right-thinking Australians have always agreed with that principle up until now.

Finally, what is this ‘real action to keep costs down’ that Bruce Billson alludes to? Please explain, Mr Billson.

I also checked out the Press Releases that Bruce had up on his website:

I note, amongst the ‘Carbon Tax is Bad!!’, material is this:

The Coalition will reduce the compliance burden on small business through several measures.

• The Coalition will adopt the principle of minimum effective regulation for proposals to amend or extend compliance burdens on small business.

• Under the Coalition, every Minister will be required to guard against growth in the regulatory burden and requested, where possible, to reduce existing red-tape. This responsibility will be included in the job description of every Minister, and they will be accountable to the Prime Minister and the Parliament for their performance.

• The Australian Accounting Standards Board will be required to justify additional disclosure and compliance obligations being imposed on non-listed enterprises in excess of adopting International Financial Reporting Standard for small to medium size businesses.

This appears to be why we keep hearing repeated ad nauseum by Coalition MPs that they want to decrease the amount of regulation on the books.

What they don’t expand upon is that which this equates to. Might I just say that it was the removal of regulatory control on business which precipitated the Global Financial Crisis. And that worked out well, didn’t it?

It’s certainly a feel-good statement, ‘We want to reduce the regulatory burden on you and your business. However it’s a dangerous simplification of what it would become manifest as in reality.

I’d also be interested to find out from any of our business owner posters just what the last dot point equates to.

There are also a couple of policies which Tony Abbott has announced.

Firstly, in his drive for savings to fund his embarrassingly generous Paid Parental Leave Scheme, Mr Abbott has decided to rip Small Businesses off to pay for it, by repealing the Small Business ‘Loss Carry Back Tax Offset’, and the Small Business ‘Instant Asset Write Off’. Hardly the friend of Small Business he claimed to be in his National Press Club Address.

However, he has decided to throw Small Business a bone, but it’s a funny shaped one in response to the more frequent Natural Disasters which will occur as a result of his potential government’s lack of action to minimise the effects of Global Warming. He has decided to go beyond the government’s ‘Existing Commonwealth disaster relief assistance currently which includes concessional loans for businesses to repair or replace buildings and equipment and to replace up to one month of stock’, and decided to give away taxpayers’ money, by way of a 4% Interest Loan to those businesses not even directly affected by a Natural Disaster:

Under our plan, a small business that has not experienced physical damage as a result of a natural disaster, but still suffers a loss of income as a consequence, will be eligible for a loan of up to $100,000.

Eligible businesses will be able to pay back these low interest loans over a period of up to 7 years at an interest rate of 4 per cent, consistent with existing commonly used guidelines.

I can only imagine how much this will add to Government Debt and Deficit in an Abbott Government. Still, it makes for a great carrot to tempt Small Business away from the Labor government. Now, every business in town can expect largesse from Abbott.

Also, Abbott is proposing to Provide a GST and PAYG Holiday of 3 months to small businesses after a Natural Disaster. Note he is not waiving the payment, so it will be due when the next payment would also be due, and will have to be paid then. So how that helps a struggling small business get back on their feet after a natural disaster is open to question. However, it sounds nice to be able to say that you are being given a holiday.

Next is a proposal that I actually think is a worthy proposition from the Coalition:

Extend ‘Unfair Contract’ provisions

In dealing with big business, smaller enterprises may be subject to standard form contracts on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis, with little opportunity to vary the terms.

This can create a significant imbalance in the rights and responsibilities of each of the parties.

The Coalition will provide a ‘fair go’ for small business by extending the unfair contracts protections currently available to consumers to cover the small business sector.

Finally, another proposal that sounds better than it is when you get down into the fine print and read between the lines:

A Coalition Government will waive for a period of six months any penalty interest for disaster-affected small businesses failing to estimate their PAYG obligation accurately.

It would be prudent for small businesspeople to note that Mr Abbott is not promising to waive the Penalty Interest for inaccurate estimation of their PAYG obligation, following a natural disaster. Get it wrong and you will still be fined under an Abbott government, you’ll just get 6 months more to pay for it. Good, as far as it goes, I guess.

Now, for the Labor Party.

As far as I can see the Labor Party hasn’t announced any new policies with respect to the Small Business Sector. I imagine this will change with the movement out of the portfolio of Brendan O’Connor, to be replaced by Chris Bowen.
By the time of the Budget this situation will probably change.

Therefore all that remains is to assess what the Labor government have done as regards Small Business policy since they have been in power.

Firstly let me make it clear which Labor initiatives Tony Abbott will scrap should he become Prime Minister:

Mr Abbott has pledged to scrap the instant asset tax write-off, which allows small businesses to claim a deduction for the full value of each new asset costing up to $6,500 after one year.

“Mr Abbott also confirmed that the Liberals would abolish the loss carry-back initiative, which allows companies which make a profit one year and a loss the next to claim a refund on tax paid.

“This initiative not only gives companies assistance if they make a loss, it encourages them to take careful risks and innovate and invest in their businesses.

Both measures are funded under the Minerals Resource Rent Tax and the Carbon Price, both of which Mr Abbott has pledged to repeal.

Now, let me just list a number of the policies that the Labor government has implemented since they came to power in 2007:

The review would consider issues including:

* Questions of good faith in franchising,
* The rights of franchisees at the end of their franchise agreements including recognition for any contribution they have made to building the franchise, and
* The operation of the Competition and the Consumer Act 2010 with respect to enforcing the code.

The Commissioner highlights the importance of small business owners being able to access information, assistance and referral to services including business advisory and dispute resolution services.

“I see the role as being an advocate for small business. And not just advocating to governments, but to business about what they can do to improve the business environment. No small business should fail through lack of information,” Mr Brennan said.

“It is important that we let small businesses know that there are effective and low-cost dispute resolution services available should they need them.

“If we see small businesses and big business working together, you’ll find the incidence of things like disputes will decrease.

Note how the Labor government’s approach to resolution of conflict between big business and small business is via Mediation, not Litigation. As the Liberal Party policy above advocates.

Since the SBSL(Small Business Support Line) started taking calls on 3 September, 2009, each working day almost 80 small business owners and people looking to start their own business have dialled the 1800 777 275 number.

Remember how the Coalition are constantly berating the Labor government for increasing Red Tape for business?

Legislation has today(13 Sep 2012), passed the Parliament that will see about 12,000 regulations removed for business.

A second set of amendments also passed today provides for a more efficient repeal or ‘sunsetting’ of regulations after 10 years, and facilitates reviews of those regulations, for example, by looking at regulations across a particular industry sector as a whole.

And what’s this I see? Not more ‘Red Tape’ cutting from the Gillard government?

For the first time businesses can find all the information they need about government-related licences, registrations and permits for all levels of government online in the one place.

The Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) is now live, and will provide customised information for any new or existing business.

Previously, businesses had to register their name separately – with different fees, forms and processes – in each state or territory in which they traded. Registering a business name for three years in every state and territory, cost over $1,000.

Under the new service, one online registration process and a low fee – $30 for one year or $70 for three years, registers a business name nationally.

Also reducing Costs for Small Business!

So, facts not matching the rhetoric of the Opposition.

Let’s have a look at another initiative for Small Businesspeople that the government have developed and implemented:

The Business Finances topic provides information on a range of common finance issues, including setting up a bookkeeping system, preparing financial reports and applying for finance.

Now a couple of acts of largesse from the federal Labor government:$25mingrantsavailabletoimprovecompetitivenessofTCFsmallbusinesses.aspx

Enterprising small businesses in the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) sector can start applying for Australian Government grants of up to $50,000 to help transform their business so it is more competitive and productive.

You can also feel a small sense of relief if you were worried about all those Queensland Public Servants that Campbell Newman unceremoniously sacked:,000tohelpretrenchedpublicservantsstartafresh.aspx

The Gillard Government will help Queensland public servants who have lost their jobs following Campbell Newman’s extensive job cuts who are looking to start their own business or open a franchise.

Minister for Small Business Brendan O’Connor today announced that $200,000 would be invested in Start-Up QLD, a new initiative funded under the Gillard Government’s Small Business Advisory Services program to provide advice and assistance to retrenched Queensland public servants. This is in addition to other government support available for workers who have been made redundant.

Finally, if you thought that the Labor government was only interested in allowing ‘Union bullying’, as the Coalition assert, and intimidation of Small Businesses, then you may be interested to know this:

“The Australian Government is committed to working with small businesses to get the balance of workplace relations right for employees and employers,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Small businesses are the foundation of our economic prosperity and the Government is committed to helping them prosper.

“This was an opportunity for all concerned parties to get together and to hear some frank and direct views from small business representatives about the Review recommendations and workplace relations generally,” Mr Shorten said.

“The Government is considering recommendations to enhance Fair Work Australia’s ability to deal with unfair dismissal claims, and to provide disincentives for frivolous or vexatious unfair dismissal claims.”

So, as best as I can, I have now gathered in one place the competing Small Business policies and programs, such as they are up to this point in time, of the two sides of politics. All that I thus ask is for any Small Business people out there who may be reading this, have cause to reflect upon what they have been offered by both sides of politics before they cast their vote in the upcoming election. Consider what you have got and compare it to what amounts to
‘A Free Gift with Purchase’ that you may be offered by the other side, and how Arkwright’s customers never seemed to end up with theirs, despite all his promises.

650 thoughts on “Small Business Being Sold ‘A Free Gift With Every Purchase’

  1. Why would the Opposition be worried about appealing to the punters in seats they already have in the bag?

    Or do they?

    Is the Opposition worried about the Katter Party?

    Jacqueline, um, Maley:

    As many pointed out, the {Going Troppo} ideas were actually rather vintage – raised previously in one form or another by everyone from Lang Hancock to Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Similar concepts had previously been rejected by John Howard’s government.

    ”Tony Abbott was in that cabinet,” independent MP Bob Katter pointed out at a morning press conference.

    ”But if Tony Abbott’s had a fall off his horse to Damascus I’ll be the first to thank him and congratulate him.”

    Michelle Grattan:

    The government, desperate for anything to use against the Coalition in battler-land, is saying the policy would increase taxes on people in western Sydney to finance white elephants in the north. But if the rough edges of the discussion paper are rubbed off such a policy has the potential to appeal in some regional seats.

    Read more:

  2. Good morning me little darlins.

    I have a few work meetings this morning, plus writing to do, so will be dipping in and out until lunchtime or thereabouts.

    Meanwhile, I suggest that consideration of the latest “polities” from the Coalition be scrutinised through the lens of kleptocracy. Makes for interesting viewing, believe you me.

  3. Fiona

    It has been posited on twitter that this country should be renamed GINATALIA! Disgusting I know

  4. The government, desperate for anything to use against the Coalition in battler-land, is saying the policy would increase taxes on people in western Sydney to finance white elephants in the north. But if the rough edges of the discussion paper are rubbed off such a policy has the potential to appeal in some regional seats.

    Read more:

    I also love the way Grattan thinks all they have to do is “rub off a few rough edges” and it’ll be a winner.

    Contrast this with her instant – within 24 hours – dismissal of Gonski and the NDIS on the basis of “Where’s the money?”


    * redevelop the entire 1,000,000 square miles of Northern Australia,

    * turn rivers inland (or dam them),

    * make the deserts bloom,

    * press gang thousands into working there,

    * change the Constitution to allow differential tax rates between the states,

    * spend billions and billions of dollars doing so…

    to make something work that’s been tried before and was an abject failure.

    Just a few “rough edges.”

    Wipe its bum, comb its hair, give it its play-lunch and call it “a policy”.

    Thanks God she’s leaving. And spare a thought for The Conversation.

  5. The Geek on twitter

    LNP Slogan deciphered: Hope is code for Gina , Reward is code for Brough on #Ashbygate, Opportunity is code for Top End of Town

  6. Victoria,

    Disgusting, but appropriate.

    The Geek has it right – we are talking about kleptocracy writ large here.

  7. The Geek has it right – we are talking about kleptocracy writ large here.

    … with the added twist that Abbott admits he’s conning Australia and, by challenging the mugs to figure out how. keeps them in the shell game.


    It’s not actually the surplus, stupid
    by Drag0nista on February 7, 2013
    I’m not buying the narrative that the federal opposition has made the transition from politics to policy now that we’ve entered the lengthy home straight to polling day.

    Granted, Tony Abbott has released a nice policy brochure which tests the stickability of campaign buzz words and floats a number of (not-yet-publicly costed) commitments. That’s a start, but a long way from the amount of detail required to adequately scrutinise an alternative government.

    But there seems to be a widespread misunderstanding that the opposition has also shifted its focus to policy in Parliamentary Question Time. This is an incredibly generous interpretation of the Coalition’s tactical shuffle from questions about the carbon tax broken promise to the surplus broken promise. It is essentially the same line of questioning, designed specifically to draw attention to the disposability of the Prime Minister’s word and her consequent unsuitability for high office.

    This may well prove a tactical blunder for the opposition. As I’ve argued elsewhere, not all broken promises are equal, and it is unlikely voters will want vengeance for the retraction of the surplus commitment.

  9. BB

    I am still unsure whether someone is leaking against Abbott or him and his party are kite flying

    In any case, the ACTU and the Labor party need to get this message out

  10. Well I think PB has finally fallen over. Probably under the weight of all the concern trolls who have peered out from their rocks because of the polling.

  11. David Lewis ‏@cruicerod
    You see sportsmen would blackball sports journo if they took this initiative in the same way the did with Slipper Cowardly eh @awebstar1

  12. Barrie Cassidy:

    The next most damaging element is that coming from within the Labor caucus itself. Disgruntled backbenchers, mostly but not exclusively supporters of Kevin Rudd, are increasingly backgrounding against the Prime Minister and some of her Cabinet. The analysis is volunteered and often nasty and vindictive.

    I’ve said it before and will say it again: the ALP will not have any peace while Rudd is still in the Caucus. His retirement can’t come soon enough.

  13. confessions

    I have long said that the msm and the coalition are not Labor’s worst enemy, but those within the party itself.

  14. Bernard Keane on twitter

    Minority govt in Australia has coincided with low inflation & interest rates, labour productivity rise, low unemployment, record investment

  15. victoria:

    Cassidy goes on:

    Rudd’s decision to return to Sunrise on Channel Seven is instructive. His weekly bouts with Joe Hockey helped raise his profile and place him in a leadership position.

    When he left, the network asked Bill Shorten to take his place. Shorten declined because he judged it might raise leadership tensions in his party. The gig went to Tony Burke.

    Now Burke has been replaced and Rudd is back.

    The network offered Hockey’s role to Malcolm Turnbull, but he too turned it down for much the same reasons as Shorten did.

    It’s an indictment on modern politics that such a brief weekly media appearance should carry with it such implied political consequences.

    Everything that is wrong with politics and the media in this country.

  16. For anyone wondering, that Bernard Keane quote is in response to one of our captains of industry doing a little political engineering on the front page of the AFR. According to Michael Chaney from NAB, minority government is holding back productivity, despite all the indicators telling us the opposite. He’s telling us a return to Work Choices is the only way to increase productivity.

    I do like being told lies on the front page of a national newspaper. Gives me a warm gooey feeling inside.

  17. leone:

    Chris Evans is spot on. That saying about not airing your grievances in public comes to mind.

  18. Barrie Cassidy

    [Of all the elements that invited constant headlines of crisis, chaos and turmoil, the developments in the Thomson and Obeid cases hurt the most, exacerbating the already chronic problems in NSW.

    MPs are now at a loss as to how the dire prospects for Labor in the biggest state can be reversed. On current trends, 10 seats could be lost in that state alone, almost rendering irrelevant what happens elsewhere.]

  19. victoria:

    Most of our media is very Sydney-centric, so naturally reporters and commentators based in Sydney take on a sense of nihilism with the ICAC stuff. But as ru showed yesterday, a similar thing happened with the CMC in Qld in 2007, but federal Labor polled well in that state.

    Maybe it’s because I’m way removed and see little reportage of ICAC here, but I’m not buying the ICAC doom and gloom of some.

  20. confessions

    We are constantly reminded how bad NSW is going to be for Labor. It does not engender any confidence in me that Labor can succeed in spite of this.

  21. This seems a little excessive:

    About the House ‏@AboutTheHouse

    Former Speaker of the House Harry Jenkins about to be hung at Parliament House – 10:30am first floor members hall

  22. My dad was a bowler, he took it up in his early thirties and always said he wished he had started earlier. I have childhood memories of hanging around the club at weekends with the neighbourhood urchins, despite being told not to do that, and of the nice old blokes who would sneak out during afternoon tea with some scones and cake for us lurking kiddies. So I was a bit taken aback when I learnt that Bowls Australia was worried about doping.

    Who would have thought those nice old blokes down at the local bowling club could even think about using performance enhancing substances? (Except for the occasional private use of certain little blue pills, naturally.) Who would have thought that when Kate Lundy said ‘If you want to cheat we will catch you’ yesterday she was speaking to whoever turns up for Wednesday afternoon Mens Triples or Saturday morning Roll Up and Coaching? How many bowlers packed up their Grippo and polishing clothes and rushed to hand themselves over to the authorities when Kate said ‘Come forward … come clean and be part of the solution, not part of an ongoing problem’?

    It turns out that Bowls Australia has been most concerned about drug use for some time, and has had a comprehensive anti-doping policy in place since at least 2010. Good on them. I’m just struggling a bit to see the nonagenarians at the local club as ‘athletes’.

    Click to access bowls%20australia%20anti%20doping%202010.pdf

  23. when will we find out the results of the Ashby Appeal. The SMH court reporter Louise Hall is on maternity leave so no use follwing her on twitter

  24. Just another example of the easy ride the OM give the LOTO.
    Today the SMH has two Abbott backdown stories buried on their website, one about Tony’s ‘no it’s not a policy’ line on Northern Australia and the other about his backdown on the NT drinks register.

    You have to look carefully to find them. No headlines, no bold type, no top-of-the-page screaming about ‘Abbott abandons policy’. Compare and contrast that to the way every possible story than can be twisted into a negative for Julia Gillard – even her new glasses – is handled.

  25. How come the Abbott leaks aren’t “shambolic”? They seem to be far more specific than ALP background concern about polls.

    My guess it that politicians would always prefer to be ahead in the polls, but the punditry seem to think the bleeding obvious is the most news worthy.

  26. Minister Burke has just rejected heritage listing for the Tarkine.

    Mining to be allowed.Banning mining too big a impact on the lives of locals.

    Good decision in my opinion.

    Watch the greens go.

  27. Thanks Leone,

    Have to feel sorry for Slipper having this case drag out further, but at least he won’t be resigning before end of May thus not triggering a by-election

  28. Whoever is financing Ashby’s legal actions must be very cheesed-off. All that money spent on attempts to bring down a government wasted. All the hopes of lining their own pockets on the rewards an Abbott government would give them have been dashed.

    Ditto the Thomson thing.

  29. leonetwo

    I maintain that the Ashby backers feeltheyhave achieved their goal. I still feel that the AFP should be investigating Brough and ither L N P involvement, which is quite separate to the Ashby appeal.

  30. Zackster on twitter

    @sortius @Steph_Philbrick I have a mate who knows Ashby, he reckons you really wouldn’t want to put him on the stand

  31. Halloweenjack1

    A tweet from Chris Murphy about it

    @razhorses @osbornep thanks for that link. full credit to you for the research. Osborne is doing a big story. i’ll send link when out

  32. Thanks Victoria, I have been following that. Perhaps this time something Chris Murphy tweets will come to fruition.

  33. vcitoria
    If you track that tweet back a bit you’ll find that link. Here’s the important bit.

    ‘Rod Stinson was a friend of my father who was one of the group that got compensation from the church for Brother Nestor’s abuse. Both of them (dad and Stinson) got a (tiny) payout but had to keep quiet about Nestor’s abuse from then on. They were both orphans at St Vincents Westmead Boys Home when Nestor was there and he abused them. During the time dad was testifying (he was supoenaed down to NSW) dad said Nestor stuck his leg out in the isle to trip him. Amazingly my (now completely) almost blind father with 6% vision left saw it in time. Dad nor Stinson nor the others got justice because the judge said Nestor was too old. Yet others older than him were convicted and sentenced. Its a real travesty.’

    Abbott certainly chose some wonderful friends when he was at that seminary.

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