SMALL business is often said to be the backbone of a strong economy.
With 75,000 businesses across western Sydney, how a future government will support local businesses is being keenly scrutinised.
Earlier this year the NSW Business Chamber launched its "Big 4 You Can't Ignore" campaign which listed the four government policy topics it believed were critical to the survival and success of small businesses.
These were: cutting down on red tape; simplifying the tax system; making it easier to employ people; and building better infrastructure.
Earlier this month a chamber survey showed business conditions, sales revenues and profits remained in negative territory.
NSW Business Chamber chief executive Stephen Cartwright said the results also showed the importance of small businesses in the economy and they needed to be at the centre of political decision-making.
"These hostile business conditions cannot be allowed to continue if we are serious about protecting jobs and our standard of living," Mr Cartwright said.
"Small business is crying out for a circuit-breaker that puts their health and wellbeing at the centre of government policy."
Earlier this year the briefing paper Western Sydney: An Economic Profile showed healthcare and social assistance were the largest industries in western Sydney, employing 90,752 people in May 2012.
Manufacturing was the only industry to lose jobs in western Sydney since 2006. It lost 1132 employees.
Asked how their party’s policy would assist the local business community, Mitchell candidates said the following:
■ ANDREW PUNCH, LABOR: I will advocate to cut red tape and for a review of regulations that govern business. Labor’s National Broadband Network will improve reliability and speed and improve productivity for businesses (small and large). The NBN will mean online applications, online accounting applications, internet banking and email will be more reliable and faster, allowing businesses to spend more time connecting with their customers. Removing the myriad of state government taxes, such as payroll tax and stamp duty, that was promised when the Howard government introduced the goods and services tax, will reduce the financial burden, particularly for small business. Streamlining the business activity statement by lodging the statement once a year in line with the requirement for individual tax returns will free up business operators to concentrate on their businesses, reduce financial costs, accelerate depreciation and encourage businesses to invest in new technology, plant and equipment to expand their opportunities.
■ ALEX HAWKE, LIBERAL: We understand businesses, large or small, and the vital contribution these organisations make to communities and our economy. The Coalition will end the neglect of business that has been the hallmark of Labor’s government. We will have a dedicated Small Business Minister in Cabinet, ending Labor’s revolving door of five Small Business Ministers in little over a year. Under the Coalition, more than 6500 businesses in Mitchell will benefit from $1 billion red tape reduction per year, a cut in the company tax rate by 1.5 per cent, a rejection of Labor’s $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax hit on cars. We will abolish the carbon tax, which impacts small businesses the most, and restore consumer confidence in our economy. We will ensure small business representation on key economic bodies, such as The Board of Taxation and Fair Work Australia, because we understand how important small business is to our economy.
■ MURRAY SCHULTZ, PALMER UNITED PARTY: No response provided.
■ MICHAEL BELLSTEDT, THE GREENS: Small business owners are at the heart of the economy, providing jobs to almost half the workforce. As an owner of a small refrigeration engineering consulting business, I am happy to say that The Greens have a plan to support small business. In NSW there are over 650,000 small businesses which could benefit from our initiatives. The Greens propose a company tax rate cut from 30 to 28 per cent for companies with turnovers lower than $2 million, an increase of the instant asset write-off threshold from $6500 to $10,000 as recommended by the Henry Tax Review, and strengthening the role of the national Small Business Commissioner. For employees, The Greens support flexible working arrangements and making job security central to the Fair Work Act. Greens in Parliament will vote against any proposed legislation which will lessen job security, workers rights and working conditions.
■ DARRYL ALLEN, CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Employers and employees in small and big business are overloaded with unnecessary government bureaucratic demands and regulation. Jobs are being lost to overseas contractors and many manufacturing industries have moved offshore. Big business is also suffering. The small business community deserves a fair go and better lifestyle, not 70 or more working hours per week. Long working hours and associated work stress puts painful demands on households, sometimes with devastating effects. Many children suffer lifelong damaging effects as a consequence of overworked and business-driven parents. I congratulate the Small Business in NSW awareness program ‘The Big4 you can’t ignore’ for highlighting the following critical issues crippling the business community:
● excessive regulation;
● complex tax system;
● workplace laws that restrict employment opportunities; and
● congested infrastructure.
The financial future of our nation depends to a large extent on the entrepreneurial skills and courage of our business leaders.
■ NATHANIEL DODD, DEMOCRATIC LABOUR PARTY: No response provided.
Asked how their party’s policy would assist the local business community, Berowra candidates said the following:
■ PHILIP RUDDOCK, LIBERAL: As I walk down to the local shops I always take the opportunity to chat to owners, and increasingly I hear stories of cost and worry. Small business is the backbone of our economy. High taxes and complex regulation demonstrate Labor’s disregard for small businesses. Running a small enterprise has become very expensive and very risky. The Coalition has a plan for small business. We will remove many current burdens, shifting responsibility for administering superannuation and maternity leave payments to the Commonwealth. We will promote small business competitiveness by reviewing competition laws, extending unfair contract provisions to small business, cutting the company tax rate and making our public areas safer through the Coalition’s $50 million Safer Streets policy. Finally, the removal of the carbon tax will provide certainty to small business and restore the sector’s competitiveness, viability and capacity to employ.
■ MICHAEL STOVE, LABOR: The economic recovery after the global financial crisis has been sluggish and we are facing the end of the China resources boom. Labor is therefore implementing the following to secure our future:
● beyond the mining boom, a $1 billion Australian Jobs package to diversify our economy and ensure we’re making things the world wants to buy;
● investing in school education so every child gets the individual attention they need to get those high-skill, high-wage jobs of the future; and
● the introduction of new rules to help local firms get the first chance to secure major projects, and small business tax cuts have been given to improve their competitiveness and profitability.
The Liberals’ unfair paid parental Leave scheme would give wealthy women up to $75,000 to stay at home for six months. Labor will not slug businesses with an excessive paid parental leave scheme.
■ JOHN STOREY, THE GREENS: Small business is the engine room of the economy, responsible for some 70 per cent of Australian jobs. It is of particular significance in this electorate, where many people either own or are employed by small business. The Greens have released a fully-costed policy to help small business by:
● Increasing the instant asset write off threshold from $6500 to $10,000;
● Doubling the funding for the Small Business Commissioner to $10 million;
● Cutting the company tax rate for small business by 2 per cent; AND
● competition policy to prevent big business using their market power to gain unfair advantages over small business.
In 1990 I established a small business in Thornleigh manufacturing, Walkabout electric scooters for the disabled. We finally closed after 15 successful years when we could no longer compete with cheap imports. I know what a drain unnecessary paperwork is.
■ LEIGHTON THEW, CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: As a Christian Democratic Party candidate, I would support Australian business in the following ways:
● the carbon tax and withdraw Australia from the carbon trading scheme;
● government procurement policies favour Australian products and services;
● for good and balanced economic policies that reward entrepreneurs and businesses for taking financial risks, while providing protection for the vulnerable and disadvantaged without creating an entrenched welfare mentality;
● and support the role of small business which is a very important to the fabric to Australian society;
● a competition policy which restricts any business to a maximum of 20 per cent market share in order to give a degree of protection to small businesses;
● it is acknowledged that foreign investment is a benefit to this country, it must not control the economy. Their profits will attract a maximum company tax rate; and
● “work for the dole” programs.
■ DEBORAH SMYTHE, STABLE POPULATION PARTY: The Stable Population Party would promote a resilient economy based on advanced, knowledge-based industries, which is what we need in a post-mining boom world. Research and development would be supported, to allow Australian innovation to be turned into viable production here. There are over two million unemployed or underemployed Australian workers (over a million in each category). We should not be relying on imported labour, but should instead focus on education and training to increase job opportunities for all Australians. A stable population will promote this. It is presently too easy presently to bring in labour from overseas, instead of employing people who are resident here. The present controversy about alleged 457 visa abuse has highlighted this issue. A stable population would ease some costs of doing business, such as electricity costs and costs associated with traffic congestion. Congestion and an expanding electricity network are currently pushing up costs.
■ PAUL GRAVES, PALMER UNITED PARTY: Federal Labor has proven increasing taxes does not solve the issues facing Australia’s economy. Australia’s politicians run the biggest balance sheet in the country and their answer to everything is to increase taxes or slash funding. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd should be looking to stimulate the economy instead of simply making more cuts to previous Treasurer Wayne Swan’s budget and increasing taxes. Increasing taxes, cutting funds and closing loopholes is the easy option which is only going to achieve short-term gain. The government needs to make smart and well-thought-out decisions that will ensure long term prosperity for Australia. The Palmer United Party will make more funds available to Australian families and businesses by reducing taxes. Reducing taxes will encourage more circulation of money. The more money is circulated the more times GST is paid and this generates a greater return for the government as well as greater prosperity for everyday Australians.
■ MICK GALLAGHER, INDEPENDENT: No response provided.