By David Bates
Well my fellow small business owners, here we are at the start of a brand new year in a country which is allegedly led by a federal government that claims to favour small government, less red tape, innovation and free enterprise.
Put simply, ours should be one of the best places in the world to run a small business and we should all be feeling ‘there’s never been a more exciting time to be a small business owner’.
Are you feeling it? C’mon, are you excited?
Chances are you’re not, and you’re not alone.
Despite all the big promises made to small businesses by this government – and despite all the pro-small business rhetoric we hear in Question Time and in government press releases – now’s a terrible time to be a small business owner here in Australia.
So, for what it’s worth, here’s a list of the things I’d like to see the Government do for small business in 2017:
Promise that - unlike her predecessor - the current Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), Natalie James, won’t be appointed to the Fair Work Commission once her current five-year statutory appointment ends next year.
On her watch, the FWO has comprehensively failed its vital remit and become entirely unfit for purpose.
Appoint new Fair Work Commissioners who have actually run small businesses themselves.
We need greater diversity in the background and life-experiences of those we appoint for life to the Commission. Trade unionists and career public servants certainly have a valid role to play, but small business lacks fair and equal representation at the Commission.
Cut business tax rates.
The USA is going to reduce corporate tax rates from 35% to 15%. If we don’t take urgent steps now to remain competitive, capital, jobs, and opportunity for Australian small businesses will flow out of our country across the Pacific.
Create a Modern Award specifically for small businesses.
Let’s face it, the vast majority of small business owners still don’t understand the Modern Award system, despite it having been in operation for more than six years.
Fact: simpler laws result in increased compliance.
If we want small business owners to comply with Modern Awards, let’s create one specifically for businesses with fewer than 15 employees … and let’s ensure it provides the flexibility they so-desperately need.
End the partisanship around workplace relations.
You can be pro-small business without being ‘anti worker’. You can negotiate fairly with law-abiding unions while being critical of union corruption. And you can respect small business owners while still legitimately criticising those employers who flagrantly break the law and rip off their workers. This is the message our government should be delivering to every employer, employee and union.
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