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Election 2013: Industry groups welcome Abbott and leadership stability, but insist work still to be done

Melinda Oliver /

Industry groups have welcomed Tony Abbott’s Coalition government into power, but are insisting that words be put into action to boost small business.

Council of Small Business of Australia chief executive director Peter Strong told SmartCompany this morning the election outcome was a “big win”.

“We’re very pleased, very exciting times,” he says.

“Businesses will feel a lot more confident about the future – there is no more dysfunction,” he says.

Strong said the lack of certainty at leadership level in the Labor Party had impacted confidence for “too long”.

“If a business, small or big, doesn’t have a leader that is supported then it goes bust,” he says.

Strong commented in a statement that COSBOA was looking forward to the removal of unnecessary red tape, as well as “confronting the issues of bullying by the big landlords and the unfair domination by the Coles-Woolworths duopoly”.

“For the sake of the economy a change was needed. Small business people and their employees have sent a strong message that we want stability not uncertainty.

“We look forward to our first meeting with Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey, and particularly with Mr Billson who we expect to be the minister for small business. Mr Billson has been a shining light for small business people and we know we can work together to have healthy small businesses and healthy small business people.”

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox agreed with Strong that the outcome has the “potential to deliver a much-needed period of political stability”.

While Australia’s economy is stronger than most, we also face significant risks – and there are many areas where we need to do better,” he said in a statement.

“These include: workplace relations; education and training; taxation; the high regulatory burden on business; infrastructure; secure, affordable, sustainable energy; and business innovation.”

The Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone said the end of a minority government will be welcomed by the small business community, and hopes the Coalition will provide “much-needed stability, consistency and coherent policy leadership”.

“Business felt squeezed out during the period of minority government while minority voices and interest groups held sway,” Stone said in a statement.

“The Coalition must now focus its attention on building the confidence and capacity of the private sector through a whole-of-government reform agenda.

“What the business community needs now is action and follow-through from the government so it can get on with creating jobs and income,” he said.

Tasmanian Small Business Council executive officer Robert Mallett also focused on the potential for stability. He said the “overwhelming result” showed that the Australian community has sought “cohesiveness and clear direction over a divided party with shifting loyalties”.

Mallett was positive about the potential of Bruce Billson as small business minister. He said he has demonstrated that over the last six years he “genuinely understands the small business sector”, and he is “not afraid to speak up and have his point of view heard”.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said the election outcome could allow retailers and consumers some “breathing room”.

“Retailers should start feeling a little more positive about the future under the Coalition’s small business policies as they are implemented,” he said in a statement.

Zimmerman reiterated the ARA’s push for industry reform, particularly focusing on the ACCC’s powers and the low value GST reform to under $1000.

“The commitment to implement parliamentary sitting days that are fully committed to red tape reduction is music to the ears of struggling retailers. Red tape is an ongoing issue and we await real action being taken that will allow retailers to get on with the job of doing business,” he said.

Australian Mines and Metals Association chief executive Steve Knott also welcomed the new government, citing a “long and constructive” working relationship with Abbott dating back to 1994.

“We encourage the Coalition to hit the ground running and begin implementing a policy framework that will both attract investment into new resources exploration and also ensure Australia reaps the benefits of a strong production and export phase,” Knott said in a statement.

The industry body welcomed the Coalition’s commitment to remove the carbon and mining taxes, as well as restoring an industrial regulator in the building and construction industry within its first 100 days in office.

The AMMA also welcomed Senator Eric Abetz as minister for workplace relations.

“His legal and employment background coupled with a strong track record as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate sees him well qualified for this key ministerial role.

“We encourage Senator Abetz to implement the Coalition’s policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws as soon as practical to wind-back the plethora of anti-business, pro-union IR re-regulation that has been so damaging to Australian businesses,” said Knott.

Tourism Accommodation Australia managing director Rodger Powell welcomed the Coalition government and its tourism policy, however, continued to push for workplace reform to stimulate employment.

“The pledge to repeal the carbon tax would help businesses reduce costs, while planned changes to visa applications and the freeze on the passenger movement fee would actively stimulate travel to Australia,” Powell said in a statement.

“These measures will all benefit the industry in the long-run, but the biggest impediments to performance and job creation within the industry are the rigid work restrictions that have held back the industry for a number of years,” he said.

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