MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO

The Australian on 26.7.16 reports: “Australian Capital Territory senator Katy Gallagher has been appointed as [the Labor] shadow minister for small business. The small business portfolio will remain in the shadow cabinet. Gallagher said. “Bill Shorten has recognised the important role that these businesses play in the economy by ensuring that the portfolio remains at the shadow cabinet level.” Gallagher says this is a “stark contrast” to Malcolm Turnbull’s recent cabinet changes, where the small business portfolio was . . . removed from cabinet.” How ironic – but well done Labor.

The insidious spectre of penalty rates is alive and well as identified in a report in The Australian on 22.7.16 that sets out a compelling case for an urgent and comprehensive review by the Fair Work Commission (FWC). But given that the majority of the FWCs appointees are Labor’s union mates that is unlikely to happen any time soon.

The report states that the “Restaurant & Catering Australia submitted modelling to the Fair Work Commission showing employers “understaff” on Sundays and public holidays. Aligning the Sunday rate, which is 150 per cent in the industry specific award, with the 125 per cent Saturday rate would increase jobs by 40,000, its modelling shows. The industry wants the 250 per cent public holiday rate reduced to 150 per cent for permanent and casual staff.)”

And, it reports that: “Employer organisations do not want to abolish penalty rates, says Stephen Cartwright, chief executive of the NSW Business Chamber. “We’re saying to take them back to the levels they were a few years … The extent that they’ve grown to has gotten ridiculous, and they’re having a negative effect,” he says.”

“Restaurant owners and other small businesses that should be getting incentives to offer jobs to young Australians instead are forced to scale back their business.” Absolutely! That is a major concern of CoSBA’s, and we would give active and unstinting support to any industry body that lodged an application with the FWC to review penalty rates and fix this reprehensible burden on small business, which is long overdue.

The superannuation folly is perfectly characterised by Grace Collier, and she has it absolutely right in particular where small business is concerned. You just have to read the “comments” to her article in The Weekend Australian, 23.7.16 to get an acute sense of the feeling out there. That is highlighted by Nationals MP George Christensen gave us a much needed display of courage. If only we had more who would do the same. Christensen vowed to vote against the [superannuation] policy and spoke the truth: “These policies are Labor-style policies which hit those people who have worked hard all of their lives; those who have scrimped and saved and done the right thing. These policies penalise success. Principally, these policies hit small business owners and farmers who have retired, sold their assets and transferred their wealth into superannuation.” Malcolm Turnbull and his team underestimate the anger out there. . .

And, in The Australian on 26.7.16 Collier writes: “Small business people, the wealthy and the non-wealthy but aspirational are all going to be unfairly penalised by the nonsensical changes the Turnbull government has planned.”

Additionally Terry McCrann, in The Australian, on July 23, 2016 under the heading ‘Scott Morrison needs to fix his superannuation mess or go’, writes: Superannuation is now the fundamental defining issue of Scott Morrison’s treasurership. Either he fixes the mess he unveiled on budget night or he announces his total unfitness to be treasurer.”

Whilst we understand that the Government is trying to “fix” the Budget, given to the adverse commentary on the superannuation mess, and its potential detrimental affect on small businesses people, CoSBA strongly suggests that it is time for the Government to grasp the nettle and do a rethink.

Finally, with respect to the article: ‘The huge consequences of the supermarket wage decision’ below, CoSBA would caution against dismissing the outcome of the looming Coles case before the Fair Work Commission as as having an effect on Woolworths, Coles and the like. We suggest it will have far reaching consequences beyond the big retail (and hospitality) sector, but ALL sectors including small business EBAs.