Company tax cut debate stalls; Horticulture code starts tomorrow; SMEs divided over Amazon arrival: The Roundup

parliament house

By Emma Koehn and Eloise Keating

The long path to securing tax cuts for small businesses continued this morning, after the Senate failed to even begin considering the government’s tax legislation last night, after hours were spent instead considering an amendment to 18C reforms on free speech.

The last sitting session of Parliament before the federal budget continues this morning, but it kicked off with more debate over possible amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act, and by lunchtime the chamber hadn’t even started on the tax policy.

Greens Senator Nick McKim has accused the government of “wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars” by continuing to discuss free speech changes and stalling the tax cuts debate, reports the ABC.

Horticulture code starts tomorrow

Businesses in the fresh food sector face penalties of up to $54,000 if they don’t comply with the federal government’s new horticulture industry code, which comes into effect tomorrow, April 1, 2017.

The code requires traders and agents in the sector to clearly document their general trading terms and to have written agreements with farming clients.

However, businesses with a pre-code contract or a horticulture produce agreement will have a 12-month transition period in order to meet the requirements. From 1 April, 2018, the code will cover all transactions between farmers and agents or merchants, regardless of when their trading agreements were signed.

The code hands the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission power to issue infringement notices of $9000 for businesses and $1800 for individuals, and to seek penalties of up to $54,000 for breaches of some of the code’s provisions.

Small business minister Michael McCormack said in a statement the code aims to strike a balance between the needs of growers and those of traders.

“It will mean growers receive timely and fair returns for their produce, as well as confidence for those who work in the industry around rural and regional Australia,” McCormack said.

“The Government consulted widely with the industry and other stakeholders to achieve an outcome which reduces red tape, and enables growers, producers and traders to do what they do best.”

More information about the code is available on the ACCC website.

SMEs divided over Amazon arrival

More than a quarter of Australian small and medium businesses are concerned about the arrival of international competitors like Amazon, but a similar portion of SMEs feel positive about the prospect of increased competition.

The latest instalment of MYOB’s SME Snapshot found that while 27% of SMES are concerned about the likes of Amazon venturing Down Under, 26% view the change as positive.

A majority of the MYOB customers surveyed for the research (57%) said the arrival of additional international competitors will force them to innovate, however, 43% are concerned about losing customers or revenue.

“It is heartening to see … [SMEs] thinking proactively about this, and as usual, looking to rise to the occasion and meet greater competition in the market via innovation,” said MYOB chief executive Tim Reed in a statement.

“However, the findings show us that there is still a way to go to settle concerns around customer and revenue impact, especially given the wider global environment they’re now playing in.”

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