Small Business advocate adding another layer to bureaucracy

Friday 23 December, 2016

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has questioned the Palaszczuk Government’s appointment of a new small business advocate.

CCIQ said the role was a waste of taxpayer money and only added another layer of bureaucracy that further removes ministers, government officials and key public service decision-makers from small business, their industry associations and representative bodies.

“Following the announcement today of a so-called small business champion, many in the small business community will be scratching their heads in disbelief at the need for the Queensland Government to appoint a part-time figurehead to represent their views to government,” a CCIQ spokesperson said.

“When Small Business Minister Leeanne Enoch announced in June that the government was appointing a small business champion to sit between business and government, CCIQ rightly questioned the need for such a role, especially one that duplicated the work already being done by numerous organisations across the length and breadth of Queensland.

“Given the role is a part-time position, with no clear metrics or KPIs and without the ability to make decisions, to set policy or to drive outcomes, we will be intrigued to see just what the outcomes will be. Small businesses will rightly ask what the point of the role is.”

CCIQ said it would be interesting to see where the government-appointed small business champion would stand on some key issues important to small business, such as lifting the payroll tax exemption threshold, restoring fairness to the Worker’s Compensation framework, scrapping the additional Easter Sunday Public Holiday and getting on with building infrastructure.

“Given the government’s opposition to each of those measures – in direct conflict with the wishes of small business – it will be interesting to see just how a small business champion will go about taking the fight to their employer.

“At the end of the day, the small business champion role appears to be little more than a talking head that adds another layer of filtering between small business and the Palaszczuk Government.”

In May, CCIQ put forward its position on this role, stating that as the state’s largest business organisation, it was already the champion of small business and had been for almost 150 years.

”In essence we act as the voice for all business to government,” the submission read.

“CCIQ has played a key role in securing many outcomes on behalf of business. Through our continued work with government, we have effected changes to areas such as taxation, electricity prices, infrastructure spending, national minimum wages, workplace relations laws, workplace health & safety laws, workers compensation and environmental regulations.”

The submission further stated that CCIQ was committed to representing the interests of its members and the Queensland business community as a whole, as an independent voice and in a nonpartisan manner.

“The most important aspect of our role is to provide advocacy on industry related issues, designed to build a better business operating environment.

“CCIQ plays a pivotal role in identifying issues and their impact on industry, as well as researching, analysing and developing appropriate responses to government policies, taxation initiatives, programs and legislation.

“CCIQ has dramatically changed its approach to advocacy in recent years to be a true voice of business through continually canvassing and then articulating business community views on various issues in a nonpartisan manner.”

The CCIQ spokesperson said that as businesses entered 2017 with the first signs of improved confidence and a positive outlook, it was important that sentiment continued to build.

“At a time when small businesses need to be employing, our regions need to be growing and economy taking advantage of the shoots of recovery, it is very surprising that government seeks to distance itself further from the 410,000 small businesses, which are the engine-room of the state economy.

“Fundamentally, it is a role that CCIQ firmly believes is the responsibility of the Small Business Minister, the directors of DTESB and their staff on the ground, as part of their everyday jobs.

“This government has re-employed thousands of public servants, but to appoint a powerless cheerleader, to further distance themselves from their grass roots is strange indeed.

“If the government really wants to take small business seriously, perhaps it should start acting to make business conditions more favourable and to stop playing around at the edges and make some decisions that will really make a difference.”

 

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