THE future growth and prosperity of Australian SMEs could be undermined if governments lose sight of the sector's priorities says Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell.
Carnell wants action on issues such as business tax cuts, competition reform, unfair contracts, government procurement and security of payments.
"Governments and oppositions have indicated their support for small business, but now we need the rubber to really hit the road for these measures to be up-and-running, and to be proven solutions to a range of small business road-blocks," says Carnell.
"There are a lot of diverse interests competing for governments' attention, but the one sector that sits across most if not all policy areas is small business, so governments at federal, state and local level must keep the sustainability and growth of this sector at the top of their agenda, if they're to keep the broader economy growing."
Two million small businesses employ close to four million people across Australia and the tax these businesses generate is rising.
"Unlike large businesses, the tax revenue generated by our SMEs is on the rise, so their importance should never be underestimated, and their growth shouldn't be taken for granted," says Carnel.
While holding governments to account on their small business proposals and promises, Carnell says the ASBFEO also has a packed agenda of its own for 2017.
"Having completed our Small Business Bank Loans Inquiry Report late last year, we will be actively working with the finance sector and ASIC to implement the changes we believe are necessary to restore balance between banks and their small business borrowers, including compliance with unfair contract term laws, and ensuring a low cost dispute resolution mechanism is put in place to deal with past, present and future claims of small business mistreatment by their bank lender," says Carnell.
"Our inquiry into payment times and practices is now in full swing. We've had a significant response to the call for submissions and the office is busy going through these in order to report in March on just how bad the problem of late or no payments is for small business, and how we can turn this growing trend around.
"We've also finalised a small business statistics report which is a unique document pulling together a range of data to inform on a variety of areas including the size of the sector, its diversity, female participation, innovation and export market participation, which will be released shortly," she said.
Business News Australia
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