Gary Gray is one cabinet minister to stay put in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s reshuffle, but whether this is good news for small business is debatable.
It’s positive to at least have some continuity in the portfolio rather than another change in what has been dubbed the “revolving door” of small business ministers, with six appointed during Labor’s term in office.
But so far Gray has been mainly silent on small business issues and instead has devoted himself to his competing portfolio roles as minister for resources, energy and tourism.
Since his appointment as small business minister in March, announcements on small business have been few and far between and there was little in the federal budget for the sector.
Business groups which represent small business, such as the Council for Small Business of Australia and CPA Australia, have told SmartCompany they have had little contact with Gray.
One SmartCompany reader, whose small business is just down the road from Gray’s electoral office, says she has not heard from the Small Business Minister.
“I operate a small business about 250 metres from his office, still waiting for him to visit and find out how much fun there is in running a small business these days as are every other small business owner in the vicinity (except the coffee shop next to his office),” she commented.
Gray has so far declined all of SmartCompany‘s requests for interviews and the most he has provided is this statement following the confirmation of his continuing role as small business minister.
“To assist small business, the government will continue to get the economic fundamentals right,” he said in the statement.
Gray pointed to the work he has done since his appointment to remove the obligations on retailers to rotate the health warnings on tobacco products and to progress the recommendations made in Alan Wein’s review of the Franchising Code.
“I have long admired the entrepreneurial spirit that drives small business and its enterprise culture,” he said.
It’s been a tough year for many small businesses and the sector would really benefit from Gray outlining the government’s small business policy before the election.
Small business needs a minister who will go into bat for it.