Queensland Premier Campbell Newman lamented the state of small business in a speech at the NAB Small Business Summit yesterday, describing the sector as “battered and bruised”.
In a twenty-minute speech, mainly focused on selling the state government’s business plan, Newman said Queensland’s 416,000 businesses are facing burdensome regulations which stop them from succeeding.
He also reiterated his government’s approach to limiting directors’ liability laws. While this initiative was originally announced and legislated last year, Newman said it would receive a push in the “coming months”.
Newman went so far as to call the directors’ liability laws “anti-entrepreneur”.
He described a situation in which he personally informed some small businesses they were no longer forced to pay certain licensing fees.
“The response was really underwhelming,” Newman said. “It speaks volumes about how battered and bruised small businesses are.”
Newman talked up his government’s initiatives, including raising the payroll tax threshold to $1.1 million and reducing environmental regulations.
He also spoke about new pressures placed on government departments, which have been told to “lift their game”.
“There last five or six years have not been easy for Queensland, but there are many great success stories at this stage about those who have bucked the odds.”
Newman reiterated his 2012 commitment that the number of criminal offences company directors can potentially be personally charged with will be reduced by his government. Currently, there are 3,800 charges for which directors can personally be held liable.
“This is completely at odds with limited liability,” he said. “It’s anti-entrepreneur and anti-risk-taking. It’s gone too far.”
Over the “coming months”, Newman said, these 3,800 offences would be slashed to about 260.
“We’re working right now to have these complex and draconian laws sorted out,” he said.
The Newman government passed legislation last year to limit directors’ liabilities in the event of corporate failures. However, business groups said the initiatives don’t go far enough and there are too many acts which still carry the possibility of penalties.