Small Business Minister Mark Arbib’s favourite small business

512x512-MyBus-Icon-V3_flattenMy Business chats to Federal Small Business Minister Mark Arbib and learns about his priorities in the portfolio, plus his favourite small business.

 

 

My Business Editor Simon Sharwood (SS) interviews Federal Small Business Minister Mark Arbib

Mark Arbib

SS: Tell us about a small business you admire.

Senator Mark Arbib (MA): In my local community there is a small business that really stands out – Walsh’s Pharmacy at South Maroubra.

It’s in a pretty tough part of Sydney near a big housing commission estate. Two brothers run it and it is a very friendly place. One of the brothers is usually there.

They have great trust with the customers and treat people like part of their family.

They put on events for the local community. I know of an art show, Christmas carols, they’re involved in sponsoring fun runs. In terms of community interaction their work is incredible. They also have services for new mums.

It is a successful business but at the same time they make Maroubra a better place to live.

SS: What’s your vision for the small business portfolio? What do you want to get done?

MA: I want to deliver the small business tax package that’s connected to the Minerals Resource Rent Tax. We have to get that in place because it will help so many businesses.

SS: But it’s only a one per cent cut to company tax and it won’t apply to non-employing businesses, which are the majority of businesses.

MA: Yes, but there are 700,000 incorporated small businesses so the tax cut is not insignificant. On top of that there are the asset depreciation changes to assets under $6500. That’s not just for one item – you can get the benefit for as many items as you purchase. I think that’s important for small businesses, and farmers in particular, so they plan for the next 12-18 months.

The other area in terms of tax are the changes around carbon. One of the big changes is to tax scales, so those whose businesses operate on a pay as you go basis the low income tax threshold triples to $18,000.

SS: Do you think that higher tax-free threshold will encourage more people to start businesses?

MA: We want to make it easier if people want to start up a business. One of the things I would love to see expanded is the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS). If you are unemployed and have a big idea, you can go to Centrelink or a job service Australia provider and if approved you can receive 12 months of unemployment benefits paid up front, in bulk, to set up a small business.

SS: How’s the national dispute resolution scheme for business coming along?

MA: We are in the consultation phase. I want to take the time to look at the feedback. When you are looking at future policy you do not want to add to regulatory burden and in this case there are State dispute resolution procedures and small business Commissioners and franchise laws to consider. I want to tread carefully and will take my time.d

SS: Tell us about a small business you admire.

MA: In my local community there is a small business that really stands out – Walsh’s Pharmacy at South Maroubra.

It’s in a pretty tough part of Sydney near a big housing commission estate. Two brothers run it and it is a very friendly place. One of the brothers is usually there.

They have great trust with the customers and treat people like part of their family.

They put on events for the local community. I know of an art show, Christmas carols, they’re involved in sponsoring fun runs. In terms of community interaction their work is incredible. They also have services for new mums.

It is a successful business but at the same time they make Maroubra a better place to live.

SS: Once again, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown that the majority of businesses in Australia are non-employing businesses. Is it time to change the definition of a business, given that so many of those non-employing businesses are sole traders or independent contractors?

SS: Once again, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown that the majority of businesses in Australia are non-employing businesses. Is it time to change the definition of a business, given that so many of those non-employing businesses are sole traders or independent contractors?

MA: Definitions are a very, very because the small business sector is so diverse. You go from micro-business, sole traders, partnerships right up to incorporated companies.

At the heart of everything is enterprise – that is the most important term, because these are enterprises that are generating wealth and jobs.

SS: But a sole trader doesn’t generate wealth or jobs. If the sole trader is hit by a bus, there’s no residual value.

MA: There are a lot of contractors who work for labour hire companies or job agencies and would consider themselves an enterprise. Part of it comes down to how the individual sees themselves and part of it comes down to how they structure their tax.

I think we need to be careful not to be too prescriptive. I want to make sure all Australian businesses and contractors get access to tax breaks.

SS: I understand you’ve met with SME Association of Australia CEO Caroline Hong. What’s your impression of the new organisation?

MA: Caroline is a livewire and has a lot of energy that I like!

I think the organisation fills a big hole in our economy because while we talk a lot about small enterprises, a lot of medium enterprises miss out. We need to make sure that their importance to the Australian economy is recognised and we don’t want them to miss out on government support.

The second thing that impressed me was the Association’s vision in terms of creating greater links to some of the Asian economies. As the Treasurer has said, in the past Australia has been in the wrong part of the world. For the first time we are in the right place at the right time.

The future for business in this country is to try to tap into the growing middle class of Asia, not just providing minerals – we have services and expertise. We need to be working at the high end in terms of technology and higher education to sell our wares.

Once the NBN is in place we will be able to do it properly because it will empower business in all parts of the country. You won’t need to be in Sydney or another capital to do business with the world.

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