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Small business let down ... yet again

It has taken the re-elected Coalition Government just eight short days to let down every small business owner in the country. 

When the Coalition finally declared victory back on July 10, Australia's SMEs (and those who work for them and lobby on their behalf) dared to dream this re-elected government would keep its word to do everything in its power to help support and protect small businesses.

So imagine our collective despair when the Prime Minister announced the small business portfolio would be taken away from Kelly O'Dwyer and, worst still, allocated to an MP outside of cabinet.

The new Minister, National Party MP Michael McCormack, will be Australia's ninth Small Business Minister in just nine years. Like all eight of his relevantly recent predecesors, he'll now need to be briefed over many, many weeks before he can even begin to perform any meaningful work.

And even when that meaningful work begins, he won't have a seat at the Cabinet table.

The Prime Minister's response to those like myself who oppose this regressive decision is as galling as it is trite: the Government cares so much about small business that everyone is really a small business minister.

Really? Then why bother having a full-time one at all then, Mr Turnbull?

And if every one of your ministers cares so much about Australia's small businesses, why have we heard virtually nothing from any of them for the past three years about the hopelessly complex and completely unworkable employment laws which make it so hard to run a successful small business in this country?

As I wrote a fortnight ago, small businesses are the backbone of our nation's economy. Is it really too much to ask that this portfolio be given the respect and resources it so clearly deserves?

Both of Ms McCormack's predecessors - Bruce Billson and Kelly O'Dwyer - were held in very high regard, but, for what appear to be purely political reasons, both lost the portfolio before they had a chance to truly master their briefs (though Mr Billson was at least given more than a year).

It is, quite frankly, a disgrace that a Government which claims to be the natural champion of small business and free enterprise has pushed the small business portfolio out of Cabinet. 

Mr McCormack might excel in his new portfolio, but if he does it will be despite - and not because of - this lamentable reallocation of portfolios.

Original published on Switzer: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

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