Chris Bowen speaks out as new small business minister, but SMEs want action not words

Two weeks after his appointment, Chris Bowen has finally spoken up as the country’s newest small business minister, but his criticism of the Coalition’s small business policies hasn’t been wholly accepted by the community he has been chosen to represent.

Small Business Minister Bowen has said the Coalition needs to get its act together when it comes to small business but industry leaders and lobbyists say they’re looking for reform on both sides of Parliament – and the two major parties share the blame.

In an article published by The Australian, Bowen says the Liberal Party has fallen away from its once-strong position of advocacy for small business, and argues the Coalition “takes small business for granted”.

Bowen even quotes the Council of Small Businesses of Australia, which said last year it remains concerned the Coalition will become complacent due to automatically earning the vote of small business.

But as it turns out, business leaders aren’t very happy with either party. While it is true SMEs in general favour the Coalition – a SmartCompany poll this month reveals just that – industry leaders say there is still work to be done before the election.

“We have to remember that 53% of self-employed people voted Labor in 2007,” says COSBOA chief executive Peter Strong. “We just want to make sure they all deliver good policies.”

“We don’t favour parties, but once bitten, twice shy. There are small business owners who feel they were taken for granted during the Howard years.”

Opposition small business spokesman Bruce Billson told SmartCompany this morning the article was an attempt to cover the fact Labor has no new policies ahead of the election, saying “there’s nothing in there”.

“The minister can make all the claims that he likes – they have little idea and very little interest in small business.”

Small business advocates have told SmartCompany they don’t want to see any more fighting between the parties – they want action. So we spoke to some this morning to get an idea of what changes they’d like to see before the election.

No matter what side of politics you support, whether it’s Chris Bowen or Bruce Billson for small business minister, these are the biggest policy reforms SMEs want to see before we head to the polls in September:

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