Following our initial contact with his office earlier this year, the ABN met with the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP (Minister for Small Business) and his Chief of Staff on 8 July, to discuss a range of public policy issues identified by our community.
We raised with the Minister the need for more government support for women in small business, particularly in terms of business education and training; and the profiling of entrepreneurship as a career option for young women; the superannuation gap between males and females at retirement age, our members concerns about extensive compliance and regulatory issues for small business, the impact of skills shortages on our members and avenues for ongoing representation to government of our members’ further concerns.
In turn, the Minister discussed a range of small-business friendly initiatives that the Government has either introduced or is progressing. These include a superannuation clearing house which will ease the burden on business owners with less than 20 employees of having to pay employee superannuation contributions to different funds, a Business Enterprise Centres network to support small and micro businesses across Australia, 27 separate regulatory and compliance issues that the Government is in the process of streamlining, the application of general skilled and employer nominated migration streams to assist in easing the skills shortage and plans to introduce a national high speed broadband network.
In terms of government support for small business generally, we also raised our concerns about the closure of the previous government’s flagship Commercial Ready commercialisation funding program; and the Building Entrepreneurship in Small Business Scheme. The Minister advised that the funding was being transferred to programs that related to climate change and green business initiatives in line with the government’s focus on environmentally friendly enterprises.
We also discussed with the Minister our unique representative focus and the need for the ABN’s ongoing involvement in public policy development related to Australia’s female entrepreneurs and small business owners. As a result, we have been invited to contribute both informally; and as invited participants in formal consultative mechanisms as they occur.