MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO

The West Australian, August 7, 2016, under the heading ‘Grylls set to lead Nationals, call for Premier out’ reports, in part: Brendon Grylls and his backers in the WA Nationals party room believe Colin Barnett should be replaced as Liberal leader and Premier and are poised to agitate for his removal. As part of an audacious tilt at reshaping the conservative side of WA politics, Mr Grylls appears set to wrest back the leadership he gave up to Terry Redman three years ago.

Importantly, for small business the report states: “Other facets of the Grylls plan include lifting the payroll tax-free [payroll-tax] threshold from $850,000 to $1.5 million”. That, if such a bold and “audacious tilt” should come to pass would be music to the ears of small business, and a boon for employment in the small business sector.

Significantly, it is also a reflection of the priorities set for small business by the federal Coalition government, in particular, the Nationals’ leader Barnaby Joyce leading the charge for small business.

As we know, on Wednesday 9.8.16 Brendon Grylls jumped the first hurdle by assuming leadership of the Nationals’ Parliamentary Party. Now, like Don Quixote he has a few substantial windmills to contend with. Firstly, he has to convince Barnett and his Libs to adopt his plan, no mean feat; then amendments to the relevant Act/s will need to be passed to accommodate his plan. “The West” of 10.8.16 suggest that’s not a given, reporting: “Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said Mr Grylls had “a hide””.

And finally, if the proposal passes Parliament, the biggest windmills of all, BHP and Rio of who it is reported in “The West” of 10.8.16: “… condemned the National’s’ discriminatory tax proposal, saying it would endanger jobs.” And, London to a brick, if the Grylls’ proposal is passed into law the big miners will fight it in the courts, all the way to hell and back.

The Editorial in “The West” of 10.8.16 states, in part: “Brendon Grylls is tapping into some genuine resentments and concerns held by West Australians with his aggressive push to seize a bigger share of money made from the State’s resources for its citizens. … the idea of an increased tax burden on Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton plays to a feeling that multinationals have pocketed big profits from WA and sometimes appear to treat the locals with arrogant indifference. Recent examples that have raised ire include Rio pushing its suppliers and contractors [many of them small businesses] to accept longer payment time frames, attracting a backlash from the WA and Federal governments, and the move by BHP to extend its mining camps at the expense of local towns, which resulted in a backdown after a fight by the Nationals.”

“So, Mr Grylls is listening to the frustrations of many West Australians, not just those in the regions.” And, we would suggest the vast majority of them are small businesses. If it comes to pass that the Grylls’ proposal becomes a reality it will make the Treasurer’s statement a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, let the games begin, small business has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

At a meeting with small business people on 5 May 2016, attended by the Minister for Small Business, those attending we were greatly encouraged by the words         of the Treasurer indicating that for economic reasons the Barnett Government had changed its focus from the big end of town to small business.

On Wednesday 10 August, CoSBA’s Executive met with the Minister for Small Business, Sean L’Estrange, which proved to be a very productive meeting, whereat the Treasurer’s announcement was discussed, and whilst the Minister did not endorse the statement, he did outline a number of small business initiatives he and the Government were currently working on, which will be announced as they are finalised. As to the Grylls’ proposal, it was characteised by the Minister as “fanciful”, pointing out the practical barriers (windmills) to it becoming a reality.

The report in The West Australian on 12.8.16 of the Government’s announcement: ‘Win for dudded subbies [small businesses] as payments protected’ is a substantial one and long over due: Subcontractors on mid-sized State projects will have the peace of mind of being paid from a government-controlled bank account under reforms to the volatile construction industry. From September 30, project bank accounts will be in place on all Building Management and Works projects worth between $1.5 million and $100 million after a successful three-year trial involving seven government contracts.”

However disappointingly for small business subbies working on “Treasury” – $100 million+ contracts will not have the protection according to the report: “But the biggest government construction jobs, run by Treasury’s Office of Strategic Projects, will not adopt them.”

The West Australian on 5.8.16 reported under the heading ‘FMG chief attacks Labor’s ‘anti-business’ stance’, stating: “Fortescue Metals Group boss Nev Power has waded into the choppy waters of politics, accusing Labor of repositioning itself as an “enemy of business”.

Mr Power said a recent shift to the left by the Liberals and Nationals had brought about a worrying change to the ALP. “That’s crowded out the Labor Party and they’ve adopted an anti-business stance in reaction to that, which I think is a bad thing for Australia.”

If Mr Power is correct in his assessment that Labor has adopted an anti-business stance, we too would agree that it is a bad thing for Australia, in particular for small business. Given the significance of small business to the national economy we look to all sides of the political spectrum to be very supportive of small business.

Below is SmartCompany’s ‘Federal government grants to help your small business’, in which it states: “Winning a government grant can give a small business a much-needed helping hand overcoming one of its biggest challenges: cashflow. But finding out which grants are available to your business, and navigating the application process, can be a minefield.”

SmartCompany has provided a useful list of some of the best federal government grants to help you on your way, with convenient ”click here” links to the information.