Labor appoints Katy Gallagher as shadow minister for small business

Leader of the Opposition leader Bill Shorten unveiled his new-look shadow ministry over the weekend, which includes a change in the small business portfolio.

Australian Capital Territory senator Katy Gallagher has been appointed as shadow minister for small business, a post that was previously held by Michelle Rowland. The small business portfolio will remain in the shadow cabinet.

Rowland, who was the opposition’s spokesperson for small business for 10 months, will move into the communications portfolio.

Gallagher, who is a former chief minister of the ACT, said in a statement she is “honoured” to be appointed to shadow cabinet and called small businesses the “engine room of the Australian economy”.

“Talking to and listening to small businesses, supporting a level playing field for small business, lowering the small business tax rate, addressing access to capital, increasing employment opportunities and ensuring a modern and efficient regulatory environment are all key priorities for me in this new role,” Gallagher said.

“Bill Shorten has recognised the important role that these businesses play in the economy by ensuring that the portfolio remains at the shadow cabinet level.”

Gallagher says this is a “stark contrast” to Malcolm Turnbull’s recent cabinet changes, where the small business portfolio was assigned to Michael McCormack but removed from cabinet.

Gallagher has also taken on the financial services portfolio, which covers issues such as the proposed superannuation changes and calls for a Royal Commission into the financial services industry.

In his announcement of the cabinet changes, Shorten praised Gallagher for being a “heavy hitter”, saying the small business portfolio is “a Cabinet position, as it should be.”

Julie Owens will retain her position as assistant shadow minister for small business, which she has held since 2013.

Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business Australia, told SmartCompany this morning he is “very pleased” about Gallagher’s appointment in the shadow ministry.

“She’s absolutely a good choice. Having had run a city in the past she gets the importance of small business,” Strong says.

Strong says he has already spoken to Gallagher since the announcement and has gotten along well with her in the past.

As for what Gallagher will be addressing first, Strong says he’ll find out when he meets with the new shadow minister for small business.

“It would be good to talk about the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, and certainly the effects test,” Strong says.

“I also want to talk to her about penalty rates, amongst other things.”

Strong also praises for assistant shadow minister Julie Owens, saying he is pleased she retained her position in the ministry.

“She’s had that position for a while and she does a good job. Our members are always very impressed with Julie,” he says.

In other changes, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Penny Wong will switch ministries from investment and trade to foreign affairs, which was previously held by deputy leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek, who is switching to the education portfolio.

The finance portfolio has been taken by Queensland MP Jim Chalmers, who is replacing Tony Burke, while Shorten is taking on the role as shadow minister for Indigenous affairs.

Chris Bowen will remain as the shadow treasurer, and Kim Carr will remain as the shadow minister for innovation, industry, science and research. Anthony Albanese will also remain as shadow minister for infrastructure and transport, cities, and tourism.

Here is a compilation of the shadow ministry changes that could affect SMEs across Australia.

Minister New portfolio Previous portfolio
Senator Katy Gallagher Small Business Mental Health
Senator Doug Cameron Skills and Apprenticeships Human Services
Senator Sam Dastyari Consumer Affairs Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition
MP Jim Chalmers Finance Financial Services and Superannuation
MP Ed Husic Employment Services and Workforce Participation Assisting with Digital Innovation and Startups
MP Michelle Rowland Communications Small Business
MP Jason Clare      Trade and Investment Communications

 

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