Published : 22 May 2019
Michaelia Cash has certainly been busy making the headlines lately, but that hasn’t stopped her from taking care of business. The Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education has been rolling up her sleeves and getting on with it.
No stranger to controversy, the WA senator doesn’t intend losing any sleep over it; she’d rather take action to improve the lot of small businesses, which she describes as the ‘backbone of the Australian economy’.
Rather than sitting around ‘talking politics’, Cash packed her bags and hit the road. Around the country she went, from Perth to Tasmania, finding out exactly what irks business owners.
“Small and family businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy, employing almost 5.7 million Australians. The small business community is so vast and diverse, I wanted to meet and listen to the concerns of small business owners across Australia, so we can continue to develop policies that will make their lives easier and help their businesses prosper,” she told Coast to Coast Media.
Rolling Up Her Sleeves
But don’t be picturing sedate get-togethers with tea and scones; when we said Cash had been rolling up her sleeves, we meant it quite literally.
“I met with around 300 small and family business in Perth, Albany, Denmark, Adelaide, Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Rockhampton, all over the place, in industries as diverse as freight transport, tourism, manufacturing and hospitality,” she said.
“I learnt how to drive a forklift in Logan, care for animals at Australia Zoo in Beerwah and spent a great night pulling beers at a local sports club in Rockhampton.”
She also got a buzz out of helping out with a family bee-keeping operation in Launceston, Tasmania, worked in a Deli in Victoria, and learnt how to make beer in a family brewery in Western Australia.
“Experiencing these businesses first-hand has shown me how valuable our policy changes have been and what more can be done. When small and family businesses succeed, Australia succeeds.”
Helping SMEs Prosper
As the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Cash is committed to helping Australia’s 3.3 million small businesses prosper, create new and better paid jobs for Australian workers, and ensure employers receive the benefits of their hard work and sacrifice.
The most recent NAB SME Business Survey (2018 Q3) reported that SME business confidence had fallen to below-average. The survey found the biggest issues to be sales and orders (demand) and difficulty finding suitable labour. Minister Cash, however, discovered that it goes a lot deeper than that.
“Some of the main challenges that have been expressed to me are a lack of time caused by red tape, cash flow and payment times, access to finance and knowing where to look for information – like a one-stop shop online for small business,” she said.
The Institute of Public Affairs supports this view. A new report, The Decline of Small Business: How Red Tape is Undermining Opportunity, Prosperity and Community, says SMEs are being strangled by red tape.
The report lists two findings from the period 2007 to 2016. The first is that the number of Australians employed by small businesses decreased by 330,000 during that timeframe. The second is that it corresponded with a massive increase in red tape. Some 61,615 pages of legislation were passed by the Commonwealth during that time period.
Author of the report, Matthew Lesh, said this should be taken as a warning sign about the future of Australia’s prosperity.
Minister Cash clearly agrees.
“The Liberal National Government is making it easier to open, operate and grow your business in Australia. We have successfully cut $6 billion of red tape since 2013, and have committed $300 million to work with the States to further reduce red tape to give small business owners back their time, she said”.
She said small and family businesses also warmly welcomed the Liberal National Government’s cut to the company tax rate.
“Since visiting South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland, our Government has brought forward tax cuts for businesses with a turnover under $50 million - five years earlier than planned.
“In 2021-22, businesses with a turnover below $50 million will now get a tax rate of just 25 per cent and unincorporated small businesses will get a 16 per cent tax discount.
“Bringing forward these tax cuts will be a shot in the arm for the small and family business sector, leading to more investment, increased employment opportunities for Australians and putting upward pressure on wages.”
Tax Relief for Small Businesses
The Liberal National Government has fast tracked its tax cuts for small and medium businesses. Businesses with a turnover below $50 million will face a tax rate of just 25 per cent in 2021-22 rather than from 2026-27 as currently legislated. Similar timing changes will apply to the roll out of the 16 per cent tax discount for unincorporated businesses.
This means that a small business, such as an independent supermarket or a pub, that makes $500,000 profit, will have an additional $7,500 in 2020-21 and $12,500 in 2021-22 to invest back into the business or staff, or help to manage cash flow.
Minister Cash isn’t stopping there, either.
“Another boost for small business was our decision to extend the $20,000 instant asset write-off for a further 12 months to 30 June 2019.
“The initiatives we are implementing aren’t limited to just tax reform. We are also taking the lead in paying small business suppliers on time. From July 2019, we will pay all invoices for contracts up to $1 million within 20 calendar days.”
It’s All About Giving a Fair Go
The Liberal-National Coalition Government has also committed $20 million for SME Export Hubs to help Australian small and medium enterprises work together to access export markets and global supply chains.
“We also committed $17.7 million to expand the Entrepreneurship Facilitators program to support entrepreneurs, including in regional Australia and for older workers, who are considering establishing their own business,” said Cash.
The Minister said it was all about giving Aussies a fair go.
“Our tax cuts and the extended instant asset write-off means more money in their pocket to invest back into their business. I visited a small business in Logan, a local Beaurepaires store, which has used the instant asset write-off to invest in new technology – an air compressor. This investment has reduced their electricity costs by 25 per cent.”
Cash says she will continue to meet with small and family businesses, to hear their experiences and concerns first-hand.
“As the Small and Family Business Minister in Cabinet, I will continue to ensure that our Government provides the economic environment that is needed for small businesses to thrive and create jobs for Australians.
“There are 3.3 million Australian small businesses, which contribute around $395 billion annually to our economy. Small business plays a vital role in our community, from giving young Australians their first real job to supporting our local charities and sporting organisations.
“We all need to continue to support Australian small businesses through shopping locally. If we don’t support and help Australian small businesses, Australia will suffer both economically and socially.”