The government’s foot has come off the pedal with trying to get regulation rightsized, former small business minister Bruce Billson has said, while calling for action to reduce the regulatory burden on SMEs.
Mr Billson, speaking on the sidelines of the IPA Deakin Small Business: Big Vision conference, said that Australia is continually patching holes with more regulation.
“We seem to be in a less confident mode at the moment, and it’s a very risk-averse sort of culture that we have in the Australian economy. And perhaps there is a range of reasons for that, some domestic and some international,” he said.
“But there seems to be no problem that more regulation can’t fix,” Mr Billson added, calling for an easing of the regulatory burden.
He warned that while a regulation may be a small additional requirement on behemoth big business, it has a substantial impact on small business.
Mr Billson explained that it’s not about removing regulation “willy-nilly”, but about rightsizing it in a way that takes notice of small business.
“It’s about having it designed so that it’s built from the small business respondent up, not the other way around where it’s designed because the big businesses have told them how to do it.”
The former small business minister warned the government against thinking of small business as a “shrink-wrapped version of a big one”.
“So always starting with that small business premise when you’re thinking about policy interventions. I think that’s really critical.”
To help with this, Mr Billson suggested adding a small business impact statement to the cabinet paper.
“I’d like to see cabinet papers have a small business impact statement just so that everybody is thinking about that every day when big decisions are being made.”
Moving away from the burdens of red tape, Mr Billson asserted that a demographic problem is on the horizon for small business, as baby boomer business owners look to retire.
“Who is going to be next?” he asked.
“A lot of young people speak in entrepreneurial tone about marching to their own beat, writing their own chapter about their history, and they have got some good ideas. How can we make sure we’re bringing that next generation on?”
Mr Billson noted the lending gap exacerbates this problem, with young people struggling to land on their feet.
“Young people don’t have a house to mortgage to get access to finance; how do we support that?”
Maja is a content producer for Public Accountant magazine.
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