Small business groups applaud Abbott’s red tape promises

The small business community has welcomed Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s announcement of a new policy on red tape, saying they would give every small business in the country a “productivity gain”.

Abbott’s policies, announced yesterday, would allow small businesses to offload the responsibilities of paying both superannuation and maternity leave to the Australian Tax Office.

A Coalition government would also tie “red tape” reduction targets to the pay of senior public servants, and create a new deregulation unit in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany the initiatives regarding superannuation and maternity leave payments are especially welcome.

“As soon as we are no longer doing unproductive work, then there is a big productivity gain,” he says. “And every employer will have that productivity gain.”

The distribution of payments for superannuation and maternity leave has been a point of contention among small businesses. While a majority don’t mind actually paying for these initiatives, many complain about the administration involved.

Strong has long argued that offloading these responsibilities to the ATO would mean businesses could spend more time focusing on other work.

“The other benefit is that super funds will save an awful lot of time and money not having to deal with us.”

Abbott’s other announcements included plans to leave environmental regulation up to the states, along with setting a target to reduce red tape by $1 billion a year. He also pledged to set aside two sitting days to repeal legislation regarded as “counter-productive”.

“If we can reduce the burdens on business, we make it easier for them to employ, we make it easier for them to pay the kind of wages that the Australian public are entitled to expect,” Abbott said.

The Australian Industry Group also praised the announcements, saying the current amount of regulations “hold back our productive potential”.

“Reducing these burdens has the potential to free business effort permitting greater focus on lifting performance and competitiveness,” chief executive Innes Willox said in a statement.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also made a statement in praise of the Coalition, saying it wants to see a red tape “bidding war” between the two sides of Parliament.

“Creating incentives in the employment arrangements for senior government officials to deliver red and green tape reductions is a new idea that’s worth the effort, given this goal largely eluded the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments,” chief executive Peter Anderson said in a statement.

Strong says the promise to place red-tape cutting representatives in the office of the Prime Minister is a move which shows “clear commitment”.

“It shows we’re high on the priority list. We’ve had a lot of talk before, but nothing’s happened and we’ve never had any structure there.”

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