Former small business minister Bruce Billson has revealed the achievement he is most proud of during his time in cabinet.
The former frontbencher announced yesterday his retirement from politics, shortly before the Government revealed it was delaying its decision on the introduction of an effects test until next year.
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Billson was replaced as small business minister by Kelly O’Dwyer in September as part of Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle.
READ MORE: The best of Bruce Billson
“I suppose my headline achievement is now everybody knows just how crucial small businesses, family enterprises and self-employed people are to our country and our economy,” Billson told SmartCompany.
“Nurturing a renaissance in enterprise is just what the country needs for its future. The other things I was able to get done were having a dedicated small business minister in cabinet… the whole red tape and deregulation agenda. The supermarket code. The root and branch review of competition laws now known as the Harper review. Unfair contract terms for small business. Employee share schemes.”
Billson also points to the small business sweeteners contained in this year’s federal budget as a particular highlight, describing the package as the “largest and most helpful” for small business in Australia’s history.
“That $5 billion budget package was so important to reward, recognise and respect small business and put the catalyst forward to encourage investment, innovation and growth,” Billson says.
“That has really set the scene… [and] made small business the new black. Everyone was talking about small business all of a sudden – a crucial group in our economy who don’t get the attention they deserve. That was very reaffirming.”
Asked whether Billson will return to the world of small business, the former small business minister says he hopes so but is currently unsure what his future holds.
“I’ll be in a different role in a different vantage point, but that passion [for SMEs] is undiminished,” he says.
“I would hope I can still do something that sees me as a great ally and asset to the SME community.”
When asked about whether he is disappointed in the government’s decision to delay the effects test until at least February, Billson says he is not dismayed but rather encouraged that the “compelling case for reform hasn’t been rejected”.
“Where there’s light, there’s hope,” he says.
“Treasurer Morrison has recognised, as I did, that there are hotly contested views. What the Government hasn’t done is kick it down the road.
“They’ve made it absolutely clear they will work assiduously to consult and put forward alternative drafting of the legal provisions and then make a decision.
“I’m optimistic there will be every opportunity to see what I see, which is the current law is a dud… there’s plenty of evidence to back that up.”