Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has named none other than himself as the shadow small business minister, a move that’s been applauded by the Council of Small Business Australia.
Speaking to SmartCompany this morning, COSBOA CEO Peter Strong said the appointment showed how seriously Shorten took the small business portfolio.
“It was very surprising news,” Strong says.
“He’s a very busy man – he wouldn’t do it for fun. This shows he does value small business.
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“In his various portfolios in the previous government, he would often talk about small business. One of the things he gets is that we’re people, not impersonal large corporations. And that makes a big difference.”
Shorten is also shadow minister for science, as well as Opposition Leader, which suggests he wouldn’t have too much time to devote to the small business portfolio.
But Strong applauds the team he’s put in place to assist him, which includes Bernie Ripoll, as opposition spokesman assisting the leader on small business, and Julie Owens, as shadow parliamentary secretary for small business.
Strong says Owens, the member for Parramatta, has a large small business constituency in her district and has owned her own small business in the past, while Ripoll is a highly experienced parliamentarian “with a good head around SMEs, particularly the finance sector”.
“Sure Shorten will be very busy, but he’s got a team there to support him,” Strong says. “I think that’s very good news.”
It’s been a great start to the parliamentary session for small business, with the ruling Liberal-National Coalition placing Small Business Minister Bruce Billson in cabinet, and moving small business from industry and into the powerful Treasury department.
“We’ve been given a much higher profile,” Strong says.
On Friday, Billson spoke to SmartCompanyabout his priorities as minister.
His first priority, he revealed, was to make it far easier and less “bewildering” for SMEs to access government services and grants.
“The idea is to streamline it so they don’t have to be brilliantly knowledgeable about the federation to be able to access services which are of interest to them,” he said.