MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO – 30 March 2018

ATO CROCS: Robert Gottliebsen warns small businesses not to take on the ATO – you’ll get eaten. “Because large organisations can afford the court appeals the ATO does not abuse its power. What the small business end of town needs is the same rights as the large end of town—access to an independent appeal body that they can afford.

In “the words of Mark Leibler: “Under the self-assessment regime, the full scope of this (ATO) power lurks beneath the surface like a saltwater crocodile.””

Now my words: “Crocodiles are known for their abuse of power and so if you are a small business person and the crocodile gets you firmly between the teeth there are no appeals, You are finished.”

And, “The peak body representing self-employed Australians [Ken Phillips] says proposed legislation to allow the Australian Taxation Office to report small business tax debts to credit reporting agencies “must be withdrawn”, as the group vows to fight the bill “the whole way” because of its potential to cause serious harm to business operators.

There are few better lawyers in Australia over the last half-century than Mark Leibler so if he says that I am sure it is right. I knew the ATO powers were wide but I did not know they were that wide. They are beyond the rule of law.

Kelly O’Dwyer who puts herself out to be a champion of small business needs to seriously demonstrate her credentials for small business by amending the proposed legislation so as put down the ATO attack dogs and cull the crocodile.

TRUST IS NOT JUST CRICKET: Robert Gottliebsen writes: “For the last decade or two NAB, along with most of the other banks, has been not been looking after small and medium sized business in the same way as in former decades.

The banks had standardised overdraft agreements that were an abomination giving them hideous powers, and they had little knowledge about their smaller and medium-sized business clients and simply looked for real estate security. Most had a vast array of complex products, forcing even good bank executives to concentrate on compliance rather than customer relations.

Most of the banks were the same but at NAB it was most noticeable because its great bankers of former years, including Nobby Clark and Don Argus, had made NAB the main player in the smaller and medium-sized business loan area. But all too often the business lending skills that NAB had built up had been consigned to the dustbin like tampered cricket balls. The big profits came from home loans and high dividends were the name of the game.

The question becomes, no matter what the Royal Commission and other inquiries into the banking sector find and recommend to remedy the malfeasance, in the words of Gottliebsen: “In cricket, politics and banking, restoring trust and regaining icon status will not be easy.” In particular where small business is concerned.