I’ve been listening to the two sides of politics over the past 48 hours claiming they are respectively the true Bestest Best Friends of small business, I’m getting a tad cross.
The conservative side of politics, you would assume, would have some kind of affinity with small business because small business is a big employer (bloody unions!) and well, because they are supposed to be pro-business by natural inclination.
But while they were in power they squibbed on a once-in-a-decade opportunity to put some backbone into trade practices legislation, with the result that big players still have a stranglehold on Australian retailing, and blithely contine to screw both their smaller competitors and, increasingly, their suppliers, with impunity.
Labor reckons that a pathetic 1 percent off company tax (which looks like a dead duck anyway) and some miserly changes to depreciation rules are going to put us all on Easy Street. I wonder if anyone at all sitting in the big green and red chairs in Parliament House has actually ever run a small business? (I seem to recall Andrew Wilkie running a rug shop in Hobart between Canberra gigs.)
I’ve been watching fairly closely, and my impression is that small business has no champions in either of the main parties. Nick Xenophon and Barnaby Joyce are the only policiticians who have expressed any empathy, or understanding of the issues small businesspeople grapple with.
But when it comes to noble quotes like ‘engine room of the Australian economy’, ‘largest employer in Australia’, etc etc, and expessions of undying commitment to ‘the little guys’, the noise from Canberra is deafening.
Judge the politicians on their actions and not their pious, hypocritical platitudes and you will come to the regrettable conclusion that, though there are several millions of Australians running or employed by small businesses, neither side gives a fig for us, except when they need a suitable backdrop and human props for a photo opportunity.
Any country, let alone any political party, which allows an oligopoly like the Woolworths-Coles rort to grow and prosper has no brief for its small business sector.
So In my opinion, small business is on its own – same as it ever was.