Small businesses call for red tape cuts
01/11/2005 - As one marathon ended, another began a lengthy six week Federal election
campaign during which small businesses around Australia must speak up and
make their collective voices heard.
Not surprisingly, one powerful voice has called for both sides of
government to take a very serious look at the most time-consuming and
costly impediments to small business the increasing amount of red tape
small business faces.
Tony Stevens, CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations of
Australia (COSBOA), was quick off the mark with a string of concerns
workplace relations, interest and small business loans and the overwhelming
amount of paper work that takes up the very limited time for small business
"But red tape impacts disproportionately on small businesses because they
do not have the money or staff to devote solely to compliance tasks," says
"The processes small businesses have to wade through, whether dealing
directly with government or with big business, which is also complying with
the plethora of regulations, weighs heavy on business owners and
"Small business needs the next government, Labor or Liberal, to acknowledge
there is a problem with red tape, not only in terms of the forms to be
filled in, but the procedures that have to be followed, the time and cost
of compliance and the delays that occur when dealing with government
agencies and big business suppliers."
"We have called in the past for an audit to be conducted so the scale of
the problem can be assessed, and then addressed."
According to Mr Stevens, an audit of red tape would be a starting point for
reform and the compliance burden on small business should be considered
with every piece of regulation.
It was the major platform of the Howard government when in opposition in
1996 cut red tape by 50 percent. They either lied or have deliberately
ignored small business pleas. Today, small businesses estimate red tape has
between doubled and tripled.
Other major concerns are the Trade Practices Act and Industrial
"The Government has adopted a number of the recommendations from the Senate
Inquiry into the Trade Practices Act held earlier this year, however we
call on them to extend that support and adopt all the points from the
Inquiry. This would help ensure small business is able to compete with
market dominant companies without the threat of predatory pricing." Mr.
"We also call on the Labor Party to ensure their changes to the Industrial
Relations system do not have a detrimental effect on small business. We
call for Australian Workplace Agreements to be retained and small business
to be exempted from unfair dismissal laws and redundancy payments."
Mr Stevens says small businesses are also deeply concerned about possible
"Whichever party gets into power, rate rises could be crippling for many
small business owners who have used their homes as collateral to their
loans," he says.
"We need every small business in Australia to make an effort and make their
voices heard, call talk-back radio, write to newspapers, send e-mail to
politicians (listed on the Parliament House website www.aph.gov.au, and let
them know first hand what we want."
He also flagged a very strong announcement concerning Telstra, the bane of
tens of thousands of small businesses, in the next week.
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