SMALL business is often said to be the backbone of a strong economy.
With 75,000 businesses across western Sydney, how a future government will support local businesses is being keenly scrutinised.
Earlier this year the NSW Business Chamber launched its "Big 4 You Can't Ignore" campaign which listed the four government policy topics it believed were critical to the survival and success of small businesses.
These were: cutting down on red tape; simplifying the tax system; making it easier to employ people; and building better infrastructure.
Earlier this month a chamber survey showed business conditions, sales revenues and profits were declining.
NSW Business Chamber chief executive Stephen Cartwright said the results also showed the importance of small businesses in the economy and they needed to be at the centre of political decision-making.
"These hostile business conditions cannot be allowed to continue if we are serious about protecting jobs and our standard of living," Mr Cartwright said.
"Small business is crying out for a circuit-breaker that puts their health and wellbeing at the centre of government policy."
Earlier this year the briefing paper Western Sydney: An Economic Profile showed healthcare and social assistance were the largest industries in western Sydney, employing 90,752 people in May 2012.
Manufacturing was the only industry to lose jobs in western Sydney since 2006. It lost 1132 employees.
Asked how their party’s policy would assist the local business community, Greenway candidates said the following:
■ MICHELLE ROWLAND, LABOR: As a proud local who had her first job in a supermarket in Blacktown, I know that small businesses are the engine room of the Western Sydney economy, with 13,500 small businesses in Greenway alone. By keeping interest rates low the Rudd Labor government is helping reduce the burden for small businesses in our area. We are also investing in the National Broadband Network, which will allow small businesses and home businesses to open up strategic advantages and create new online digital plans to work and trade more effectively, and have introduced the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House to help small businesses with 19 or fewer employees meet their superannuation guarantee obligations. We are also investing in our business support networks such as the Greater Western Sydney Business Enterprise Centre. If Tony Abbott is elected he will be cutting $5 billion out of the small business sector by abolishing a range of important tax concessions and increasing personal income taxes for sole traders.
■ JAYMES DIAZ, LIBERAL: Small business is the backbone of the Greenway community, but under Labor the sector is struggling. If elected, the Coalition will unshackle the small business sector – unleashing the potential of small businesses to grow and create more local jobs. Small business jobs growth is essential to fulfilling the Coalition’s goal of growing the economy and creating one million new jobs within five years. A coalition government will lower small business taxes and cut $1 billion in red and green tape costs every year. We will reduce the regulatory burdens faced by small business owners – meaning they can become more productive and devote their energy towards their business. The Coalition will also reduce costs for small business owners by immediately abolishing the world’s biggest carbon tax. We will also reject Labor’s $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax hit on cars.
■ CHRIS BRENTIN, THE GREENS: My full-time employment is working as a business manager in an employment service in the electorate. I see first-hand how important local employment opportunities are and the important role local business plays in this. By investing in renewable energies and moving towards a 100 per cent renewable Australia this will create a secure and stable job market. Studies from the university of NSW show 70,000 jobs will be created in NSW from the renewable energies sector, which includes a high proportion of manufacturing jobs for wind turbines and solar panels. Manufacturing has historically been large industry in this electorate. The Greens have also announced a plan to ease the pressure on small business by expanding tax breaks and strengthening the role of the national Small Business Commissioner. The Greens are proposing a company tax rate cut from 30 to 28 per cent for companies with turnovers of less than $2 million, changes to depreciation write-offs and strengthening the role of the national Small Business Commissioner.
■ JAMIE CAVANOUGH, AUSTRALIAN VOICE: Australian Voice stands on a platform of making politicians accountable to the people. A critical area of our focus is the extraordinary neglect shown by all major political parties when ignoring this prime engine of the Australian economy. The actions of big-party government have shown little but contempt for small business as jobs disappear offshore, bureaucracy weighs owners down with red tape, and families lose their assets in a system that encourages predatory pricing, anti-competitive behaviour and collusive conduct. Australian Voice would abolish the carbon tax, conduct a review of the fringe benefits tax to identify burdens for small business, and implement a policy on imported goods to arrest the disparity between locally-produced and goods from exploitative sweatshop operations. Wewill introduce small business impact statements to accompany major policy initiatives in order to correctly judge the impact on this part of the economy that can least afford the loss of time and resources. Australian Voice wants to improve life for small business owners, their families and the staff that are employed by them. Many of our members own and operate small businesses. I’m one of them.
■ ALLAN GREEN, CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Under the federal Labor government consumer confidence has suffered due to concerns over the poor management of the economy. Families are facing large increases in rents and house prices and this impacts consumer spending power and the standard of living. This situation must change and that requires a change of government. I have found that many people in Greenway want better economic management to encourage more secure employment and consumer spending. The people of Greenway are also very concerned about the dramatic increases in rents and house prices under Labor. The Christian Democratic Party would promote an improved business environment by promoting economic productivity that secures more jobs and business growth. We would reduce costs to business and the community by repelling the carbon tax. The Christian Democratic Party would also promote business growth by ensuring housing availability and affordability for families in Greenway. Employment in small business accounts for approximately two thirds of the Australian workforce.
■ ANTHONY BELCASTRO, KATTER'S AUSTRALIAN PARTY: We are committed to reducing red tape and compliance costs for small business. Specifically, we will pursue policies that provide a consistent definition of small business in Australia that ensures competitive advantage for Australian small business (less than 50 employee threshold preferred). We will give small business the same rights under competition policy as consumers; give small business the same rights under industrial relations law as employees; mandate regulatory impact assessments specifically for small business; and establish a Small Business Ombudsmen with particular interest in predatory anti-competitive behaviour by big business and compliance. The small business sector accounts for approximately two million businesses and employs over seven million people in Australia. A healthy small business sector means more competition. More competition will result more full-time jobs real saving to consumers.
■ JODIE WOOTTON, PALMER UNITED: Palmer United is committed to removing the fringe benefits tax on business entertainment to encourage business to get back to discussing business deals and increasing revenue for restaurants. We will stop punishing businesses who struggle with GST liabilities and who are being forced into liquidation. Our aim is to keep revenue moving by keeping businesses running and normal PAYG and payroll tax which really stimulates the economy. Tourism between Parramatta and the Blue Mountains has received no boost outside the new Wet ‘n’ Wild Park. More needs to be done to bring the east to the west and for the west of Sydney to become a tourism hub bringing increased job opportunities and consumer spending. Government tenders needs to be accessible to the smaller business sectors so it’s just not the big boys gaining advantage and continuing to overcharge and make big profits. I will fight for a full review of bank fees imposed on business that are bound by the bank monopoly to run their business whilst the banks post record profits.
Asked how their party’s policy would assist the local business community, Chifley candidates said the following:
■ ED HUSIC, LABOR: Last week Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced three new measures to help small businesses. The Rudd Labor Government will cut red tape for small businesses, enabling them to pay their employees’ superannuation to a single location in just one simple electronic transaction. We will also enable businesses with fewer than 20 employees to streamline administration of our successful Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme by having Centrelink make PPL payments to their employees whilst they are on parental leave. A re-elected Rudd Labor Government will create a $10 million Small Business NBN Innovation Fund to help small businesses across the country unleash the full potential of the National Broadband Network (NBN).
■ ISABELLE WHITE, LIBERAL: If elected, a Coalition government will lower small business taxes, cut red tape, encourage small business finance and change the culture of government to encourage small business growth. Major initiatives:
● Abolish carbon tax;
● Reduce company tax rate by 1.5 per cent;
● Review of the competition framework;
● Extend unfair contract protection;
● Defer by two years the increase in employer-funded superannuation;
● Give small business employees access to the Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme;
● Protect rights of independent contractors and the self-employed;
● Improve small business access to government contracts;
● Ensure government agencies pay all small business bills within 30 days; and
● Establish a small business ombudsman.