MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO

The announcement of the new federal Minister for Small Business, Michael McCormack, not being a member of cabinet comes with abject dismay and a sense of betrayal of small business.

The Prime Minister’s decision flies in the face of support he has given small business with tax relief, which is yet to be passed by the Senate. However the Prime Minister seeks to defended his decision with the lame excuse that, small business is a “relentless focus” of every minister in his government. “Every minister is a minister for small business,”

It is a move that the Council of Small Business of Australia, chief executive Peter Strong, has labelled as a “mistake”. “Moving small business out of cabinet is a potential win for big unions and a half a dozen big businesses,” Strong words from Strong, but a sentiment that CoSBA would wholly agree with and support. Therefore, CoSBA call upon Barnaby Joyce to fully represent the minister and small business at the cabinet table.

It is fitting that the report ‘The brutal end of dog eats dog’ published in The West Australian on 19.7.16 characterises the plight of subcontractors as being, “Like doomed footsoldiers on the blood-soaked battlefield of the Somme in 1916, subcontractors in the construction industry are so numerous, they are considered expendable.”

Along with the Independent Contractors Association, CoSBA has long been a strident advocate for the plight of subcontractors, in particular in the construction industry. And yet again, a Senate committee report into insolvencies in the industry, underlining just how brutal it can be for those at the bottom of the contracting chain.

The report highlights the plight of subcontractors, such as, “The Maddington cabinet-maker [who] has been going through the stages of grief since learning he will not be paid for some $300,000 of work done at schools, hospitals and community centres.

With the politicians, Federal and WA, ducking for cover from the report, in order to do as little as possible to assist the subcontractors, it concludes with sound advice, that CoSBA supports, but also with an unfortunate but factual lament: “If the Turnbull Government wants to crack down on union malfeasance in the construction industry by reviving the Australian Building and Construction Commission, it will come under pressure to also tackle the corporate cowboys. Until then, for subcontractors, it’s once more unto the breach.”

A report in The West Australian, 21 July 2016, the Productivity Commission says, “lower thresholds for mandatory review of foreign investment will deter overseas buyers, and also effectively warned against the Turnbull Government’s proposed “effects test” to protect small business, saying existing regulation and oversight is adequate in dealing with concerns about abuse of market power.”

How ironic that of the nine Commissioners and Associate Commissioners that comprise the Productivity Commission only one, Angela MacRae, “has worked on issues relating to small to medium sized businesses”, all are or have been academics, lawyers and/or senior public servants. (http://www.pc.gov.au/about/people-structure/commissioners) Great qualifications for having empathy with the needs and aspirations of small businesses. The new Minister for Small Business does not agree with them.