Federal Election: Which major party will be better for small business?

·News Reporter
·3-min read

As the Federal Election on May 21 looms closer, the major parties are wooing the various sections of the community and industry to secure votes.

One sector crying out for assistance from the next government after two years of lockdowns and restrictions that decimated trade is small business.

Here's what we know about the Coalition and Labor policies that will affect small business.

A customer and employee at a pie shop
Small business is crying out for government reform and support after two years of lockdowns and restrictions decimated the industry. Source: Getty

Coalition policies that affect small business

The Coalition has been strong in their rhetoric about creating jobs and training programs for Australian workers.

One commitment is to create another 1.3 million jobs over the next five years, including 450,000 jobs in regional Australia. While the detail of what industries those new jobs go to is scant, small business, which makes up 97 per cent of all business in Australia, would likely benefit.

Election banner
Election banner

The Coalition has also pledged tax incentives to small businesses so they can "upskill and train their employees", and $3.7 billion for 800,000 new training positions across the nation.

Apprentices and trainees will also benefit from $2.8 billion in additional training incentives, providing more higher-skilled workers for small business and other industries.

Labor policies that affect small business

Labor appears to have its finger on the pulse with small business, announcing a number of dedicated policies to help the struggling sector.

Labor has promised what it calls a "Better Deal for Small Business", which it says will deliver certainty to small businesses during crises by ensuring they are paid on time and cutting transaction fees at point of payment.

Labor claims under the Morrison government many small businesses are waiting more than 30 days to get paid for various work, and the "Better Deal" will ensure this is avoided while cutting costly red tape that affects business.

Anthony Albanese laughing with other men in cafe
The Labor Party under Anthony Albanese has announced a "Better Deal" for small business. Source: Getty

Labor has also pledged to make unfair contract terms with big business illegal.

It also promises the Start-up Year initiative, fee-free TAFE to address skills shortages, and cheaper child care to encourage more people back into the small business fold.

Graphic with Liberal policies on the left in blue and Labor policies on the right in red
How the policies of the major parties compare

Costs spiralling for small business

Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) CEO Alexi Boyd said both parties need to show their commitment to small businesses by giving them the tools to manage the impact of inflation and interest rates on the back of a devastating two years of Covid-19.

"The double whammy for them is that business expenses are also on the rise, hitting their bottom line and even threatening their viability," Ms Boyd said.

"Most small business owners will tell you that their input costs have increased by far more than the 5.1 per cent of CPI. And this at a time when many are facing the prospect of repaying debt deferred during COVID-19.

"We also need to have a serious debate about issues that have for too long been placed in the “too hard” basket to give small businesses back the time that Covid stole from them such as tax reform and industrial relations reform."

Competition reform policy absence a 'major oversight'

Ms Boyd said that as the election gets closer neither of the major parties had announced anything in their policy platforms regarding competition reform.

"This is a major oversight. Australia's current competition regulation doesn't do enough to stop anti-competitive acquisitions or curtail market concentration, leaving small businesses vulnerable to being exploited by the duopoly of Coles and Woolworths, put out of business by big box retail chains like Bunnings and Officeworks, and bullied by big landlords like Westfield."

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