Shorten and Labor just don’t get small business and never will

Michael Mccormack, The Australian, August 29, 2017

Two billion dollars is a lot of money in Tumut.  The proud Snowy Mountains town is a vibrant community in my electorate. A country town proud of its tourism, passionate about the Tumut Blues and Bulls, and proactive about its future.

Tumut knows that when businesses in town do well, so do businesses on the farm. There are more jobs. More money flowing around the town and success spurs along the Wynyard Street shopping strip and at the saleyards.

That success flows to schools and sporting clubs. To young people starting out with their first casual job and to those who are looking to pick up a few extra hours to help make ends meet.

This is jobs and growth.

The announcement from Malcolm Turnbull and Visy chairman Anthony Pratt at Tumut last week that Pratt would pump $2 billion into expanding Visy’s cardboard and paper-recycling empire is proof that jobs and growth is working.

Five thousand high-paying manufacturing jobs is not just a catchy statistic. It’s not just a grab at a headline or a glossy brochure. It’s just Tumut doing what Tumut does best.

It means there are small businesses — such as truckies and shipping companies — around the Riverina and Snowy Mountains which will benefit from new opportunities in construction, consultation and community engagement.

It means there’s more money flowing around the community — to local shops, local real estate agents, sporting clubs and schools — thanks to the influx of people from this new investment. And it means there’s a new start for locals in Tumut who are looking for a job, an opportunity and an injection of confidence from an employer.

I’ve often said the government doesn’t create jobs, business does. But government can put the conditions in place to make Australia a worthwhile place to invest and create jobs.

That’s exactly what our economic plan does.

By cutting the taxes for Australia’s 3.2 million small businesses, people such as Wendy Silk at Donges IGA in Young, NSW, have told me she can put on another casual in her family-owned supermarket.

By extending the instant asset write-off to more small businesses, people such as Kate Marland of Warner’s Fine Jewellery in Bundaberg have told me she can buy her dad the new drill he needs to make the bespoke pieces the family-owned jewellery store sells.

By fixing competition law and the rules around the misuse of market power, people such as National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar have told me it will “mean a more objective measure to assess the impacts of misuse of market power and anti-competitive behaviour within the supply chain”.

And our plan is working. Just last week, Moody’s maintained Australia’s AAA credit rating. There are more Australians in jobs today than at any other time in our history. Small businesses are looking to the future with excitement and confidence.

But so many small businesses tell me the confidence could be better if only Labor got on board.

That’s because the Labor leader in recent days went as far as to admit he’s “no expert on small business” at a summit to discuss the sector’s future in Melbourne.

Bill Shorten isn’t alone, though. Former Labor leader Kim Beazley said of small business on Perth’s 6PR radio station in 2000: “We have never pretended to be a small business party, the Labor Party, we have never pretended that.”

It’s little wonder that at a time when the Liberals and Nationals want small businesses to hire more Australians and expand, Shorten and the Labor Party want to jack up taxes.

It’s little wonder that, at a time when more small businesses are using the instant asset write-off to grow, Labor voted against its expansion.

And it’s little wonder that at a time when more Australians are working than ever before in our history, Labor wants to slug small business with a 30 per cent tax floor on trusts, which help balance the good years and bad.

Small businesses are cheering fairer competition laws, achieved despite Labor staying in bed with the unions and the big end of town.

Right now, business in Australia is booming but if we want our economy to keep growing and creating jobs, Shorten needs to come to his senses and stop slugging small business.

Michael McCormack is federal Small Business Minister and Nationals MP for Riverina.