Barnaby Joyce is now the deputy prime minister: What this means for small business

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Barnaby Joyce

Barnaby Joyce has been appointed as leader of the National Party after serving as the party’s deputy leader for just over two years.

The feisty politician is well known for standing up to the Liberals on particular issues that affect rural and regional Australians.

For example, before he served in cabinet, Joyce crossed the floor to vote against the sale of Telstra.

More recently, the member for New England was catapulted into international headlines after claiming Jonny Depp’s dogs should be destroyed for not going through the appropriate quarantine methods.

As leader of the Nationals, Joyce will also serve as deputy prime minister.

So what will his promotion mean for small business?

 

1. The debate over the effects test will not go away any time soon

It is well known Joyce believes Australia should introduce an effects test into competition law in order to better protect farmers and primary producers from action by big business that harms competition.

While the final decision rests with Treasurer Scott Morrison, Joyce will no doubt advocate for his fellow cabinet ministers to amend section 46 of the Competition Act.

Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany he is “very happy” that a politician who is backing COSBOA’s campaign to introduce an effects test is deputy prime minister.

“Competition has to work for regional Australia,” Strong says.

 

2. Australia will have a deputy PM who says anti-halal campaigners are anti-business

When anti-halal campaigners ramped up their attacks on businesses with halal certification last year, Joyce swooped in to provide some common sense to the debate.

“If we didn’t have the halal market for beef that could really affect thousands of meatworkers in Australia,” Joyce told The Australian.

“You want to be really careful before you start putting all their jobs on the line by saying we’re not going to participate in these range of markets.”

 

3. Regional and rural businesses might get another voice in cabinet

Speaking to the media last night, Joyce reaffirmed his belief that the Nationals are entitled to another seat in cabinet.

“We have – are – entitled to a further cabinet position,” Joyce said.

As for whether Joyce will continue to serve as agricultural minister, the Nationals leader said he will make that decision by the end of today.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to announce a wider cabinet reshuffle as soon as this weekend.

 

4. Small businesses, particularly exporters, can expect to see more government sweeteners

Joyce has always said more government funds should be given to farmers, particularly during times of drought, and even when the Liberals have said there is not enough money in government coffers.

Late last year, Joyce unveiled $5.3 million in grants for a number of Aussie exporters tackling international markets – ranging from avocado businesses to exporters of kangaroo meat.

Speaking shortly after his appointment to the Nationals’ top job, Joyce hinted that further policies for regional businesses could be announced soon.

“We know we’re not that far from an election,” Joyce said.

“We have strong interests in the things that fulfil the requirements of the people we serve in regional Australia. They are interested in roads, transport and the price of commodities. They are interested in their standard of living, in their economy.”

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Broede Carmody is SmartCompany's senior reporter. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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