Australia’s new government has been sworn in, but one surprise decision has left SMEs questioning whether they will continue to be supported.
Previous Minister for Small Business Kelly O’Dwyer has been moved to a new portfolio as Minister for Revenue and Financial Services.
Another MP with a background in small business, Michael McCormack, has been named as her successor.
Mr McCormack spent nearly 30 years working as a regional newspaper journalist and editor before setting up his own media company, MSS Media Services and Solutions. He ran this business for eight years until his election to Parliament in 2010.
However, the big surprise for SME owners was that the small business portfolio has been dumped from cabinet, and will instead be integrated into the much larger treasury portfolio.
The move was unexpected and caused many to question whether this would be a positive or negative thing for the nation’s small business owners.
“Mr McCormack has the confidence of the sector, however we are disappointed the portfolio has moved from cabinet and we will be seeking answers to why this has happened,” said Peter Strong, CEO of the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA).
“Small business is powerful, employing around 5 million Australians and driving the country’s economy, so why has the portfolio moved? What’s happened and what pressures have caused this? Perhaps big businesses and unions are in play? In our opinion this is a step backwards for small business.”
This sentiment was strongly echoed by MYOB CEO Tim Reed.
“Given Mr McCormack’s experience as a small business owner, I’m confident he will bring a unique perspective to this critical portfolio,” said Mr Reed.
“However, it’s disappointing that the small business portfolio is no longer in cabinet. I hope this unexpected choice doesn’t represent a missed opportunity for the government to bring small business into the central innovation agenda.”
He added: “I hope Kelly O’Dwyer continues her passion for small business in her new role as Minister for Revenue and Financial Services. There is a lot that can be done for small business in her portfolio, such as the simplification of the BAS system and e-invoicing, which SMEs have been calling for in recent months”.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.