Don’t expect any program assistance – the Federal Government’s priority is cutting red tape, not funding programs that help entrepreneurs.
That’s the message from Federal Small Business Minister Craig Emerson, who discussed his vision for the small business portfolio in a wide-ranging interview with SmartCompany, published today.
While Emerson clearly appreciates that SMEs are struggling to cope with the economic downturn caused by rising interest rates and soaring fuel prices, he does not shy away from the decision to slash around $1 billion worth of small business programs in the May federal budget.
He says the Government needed to hand down a tough, responsible budget and the razor gang lead by finance minister Lindsay Tanner – who Emerson is working closely with on the Rudd Government’s federal/state deregulation push – had to make appropriate cuts.
But any entrepreneur who thinks those programs might be restored when economic conditions improve should think again. Emerson might be a Labor party minister, but his philosophy on industry assistance is closer to the free-market thinkers on the other side of politics.
Emerson believes businesses should not get handouts unless there is a clear benefit to the wider community, and small business policy should be aimed at getting out of the way of entrepreneurs by cutting red tape and making it easier to deal with the Government.
The one exception will be innovation policy. But entrepreneurs will have to wait until later this year to find out what the Federal Government may implement from the Innovation Review currently being conducted by Terry Cutler.