Tuesday April 23, 2019

Small business is a Big Deal

Small business is the back­bone of the economy and community.

Close to 98 percent of Australian businesses are small businesses, employing five million people, including a third of young work­ers and 40 percent of apprentices.

That’s why the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s campaign to coincide with the federal election is called “Small Business is a Big Deal”. Small business is a big deal to the Chamber, it’s a big deal to the Australian economy, and it’s a big deal for Business SA and the owners and operators it represents.

There are three things our members have told us they, and the millions of workers they employ, need from the next Federal Government.

1. Better workplace relations

The next Government must help employers and employees to work together. That’s what workplace relations means, and the Government must help improve those relationships. Small businesses need more support to hire people and work together with them. We want to work in the spirit of collaboration – not conflict. The scare campaigns and threats are not helping, either.

The next Government must recognise that despite the rhetoric coming from some about low wages, Australia has the second-highest minimum wage in the world, marginally behind Luxembourg.

There are very few people on that minimum wage – more than 98 per cent of employees are paid more than that. The next Government must also ensure workplace laws work for small businesses and their employees, with rules that make it easier to create jobs and run their businesses well.

2. Lower power prices

Our next Government must deliver affordable and reliable electricity – with lower emissions. We know that small businesses are paying too much for power.

The National Energy Guarantee (NEG) – plus recommendations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – will encourage more competition, address reliability, pricing and emissions reduction.

The next Government must encourage more investment and more competition so the price of power comes down and stays down, while ensuring the lights stay on and emissions come down.

3. Invest more in skills

The next Government must stop the collapse in skills. Skilled workers are essential to small businesses.

However, there are not enough people being educated and trained for the jobs on offer.

Government investment has fallen so far that the number of apprentices has dropped from 516,000 to 265,000 in just four years. The next Government must help small businesses by funding an extra 350,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships over the next three years.

Small businesses reach into the heart of every community – your newsagent, your butcher, your pharmacist, your dentist, and your local cafe.

And together with Business SA, we will be reminding politicians that Small Business is a Big Deal.

James Pearson is chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Opinion piece by: James Pearson, Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry 

Published by: The Adelaide Advertiser


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