Stop bickering, start governing – here are five topics the Government should be focusing on instead of the leadership battle

The entire country is transfixed on Canberra where a leadership spill has now been confirmed for Monday, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former foreign minister Kevin Rudd set to go head-to-head over who can lead Labor to victory at the next election.

But businesses are fed up. While the capital is filled with politicians bickering amongst each other, SMEs are trying to get on with the hard work of creating jobs, driving the economy forward and creating new and exciting innovation.

For many frustrated entrepreneurs, the debates over political leadership are distracting from more important ones – discussions over taxation, entrepreneurship, and ways to help small business create jobs.

Here are five debates around business the Government needs to be focusing on instead of insular leadership battles:

Industrial relations

While there is already a Fair Work review underway, it could stand to receive a little more attention.

We’ve already seen a suite of business groups including the AIG, ACCI and a number of small businesses put their views forwards regarding penalty rates, public holidays and strikes. But it could be receiving a lot more attention if the Government wasn’t distracted.

The Fair Work act was one of the biggest changes to industrial relations in Australia’s history. If it’s not working, action needs to be taken.

Tax reform

Remember the Henry Tax Review? That single report delivered dozens of recommendations to the Government on how it could improve the tax code for businesses, including working on getting payroll tax out of the way.

The Government adopted a handful of those recommendations, but it wasn’t enough. There’s more to be done here, and there are plenty of tax structures that require attention. For one thing, the corporate tax rate could still stand to come down, and payroll tax is still a clamp on growth.

The study group focused on business taxes changes is due to report in weeks – will anyone in Government be able to find some time to listen?

Small business commissioner

Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany this morning he believes the Government should be focusing on creating the position of a national small business commissioner.

The states have already begun setting up small business commissioners themselves, and by and large have been fairly well received. Setting up a national commissioner would send a clear message the Federal Government actually cares about SMEs and their issues.

Red tape

It’s a cliché, but businesses really do hate red tape – and there’s plenty of it to go around.

Whether it’s making businesses pay maternity leave payments, or go through complex forms to apply for a grant, SMEs can easily get distracted from doing their jobs by having to wade through  complicated regulations.

Governments promise to cut red tape but never deliver. Actually spending some time on this to make a serious effort in reducing burdensome regulations would be a much bigger help, and much more interesting, than the current leadership battle.

Supporting the job creators

The economy is hurting. Retailers have announced nearly 500 store closures for the next few years. Confidence is low. Sales are falling. People are scared to spend money, and as a result, jobs are being scrapped everyday in manufacturing, retail and construction.

There is a fundamental shift happening in many industries as the internet continues to cut the number of jobs performed by the existing workforce.

Actually creating jobs and advocating more support for entrepreneurs is crucial, and a much better use of time. Incentives for entrepreneurs, investors and other businesses would help get the economy humming again.

Job creation should be front and centre of the Government’s attention. But as long as the leadership struggle takes the spotlight, these crucial areas will get less attention.


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