Queensland voters head to the polls: What the election will mean for your SME

Queensland voters head to the polls: What the election will mean for your SME

Queensland opposition leader Annastasia Palaszczuk on the campaign trail (Photo: QLD Labor website)

The small business community of Queensland will stand to lose out if there is a change in government at tomorrow’s election, according to the state’s chamber of commerce.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has said SMEs will be better off under the incumbent Newman government, rather than the Annastacia Palaszczuk-led Labor Party.

CCIQ said in a statement, the key point of difference between the LNP and the ALP was the government’s ‘Strong Choices’ policy regarding the privatisation of state-owned assets, which it believes will allow for more funds to be further invested into the small business community.

CCIQ general manager of advocacy, Nick Behrens, told SmartCompany the organisation analysed all policies that impact on small business in making this determination.

“It’s not our role to tell our members who to vote for, but to provide information to help them make an informed decision,” Behrens says.

“Given the LNP has $8.6 billion infrastructure war chest and $3.4 cost of living war chest, that’s a $12 billion allocation, much of which aligns with business interests and small businesses in particular.”

Behrens says while both parties have put “very good things on the table” for SMEs, the CCIQ is impressed by the LNP’s $91 million “Jobs of Tomorrow” plan, its $60 million tourism funding package and its move to lift the payroll tax threshold.

He says Labor has also “put its hand up for small business” with its $40 million tourism package and $50 million Advance Queensland initiative to reinvigorate science and innovation, but the CCIQ was unimpressed by its move to unwind workers compensation reform and scrap a proposed increase to the payroll tax threshold.

“For every one dollar spend by Labor for small business, the LNP has spend $5,” Behrens says.

But Fiona Stager, co-owner of Avid Reader bookshop in Brisbane’s West End, told SmartCompany Queensland small businesses are still recovering from the negative impact the Newman government has had on jobs and the state’s economy.

“The impact of Campbell Newman sacking public servants is still being felt,” says Stager.

“Especially that first Christmas trading period, the impact was diabolical.”

Stager says the economic downturn of the mining industry has also affected consumer confidence, which is having a lasting impact on Queensland retailers.

“People stop spending when they’re fearful that they or their partner will lose their jobs,” she says.

So what exactly have the major parties promised Queensland small businesses this election? SmartCompany takes a look at six key areas.

 

Payroll tax

 

Payroll tax has been a big ticket item for small business since Clive Palmer pledged to axe the tax earlier this month if the Palmer United Party was elected.

The Liberal Party has since pledged to lift the payroll tax exemption threshold from $1.1 million to $1.4 million.

But Labor this week revealed it would defer any future increases in the payroll threshold in order to save $255 million for other policies.

Behrens says Labor’s policy would affect 20,000 small businesses and the creation of 4000 jobs.

“We were somewhat astonished they were not prepared to match that commitment,” he says.

Instead, the ALP has promised to introduce a payroll tax rebate of 25% on the wages of apprentices and trainees and a three-year payroll tax ‘holiday’ for companies moving to Queensland.

 

Penalty rates

 

Labor has made penalty rates an election issue, reportedly working with unions to campaign against changes to workplace laws pending the Productivity Commission’s sweeping review of the workplace relations system.

The Conversation reports ACTU president Ged Kearney has talked about campaigning in a number of marginal Queensland seats on the issue of penalty rates, which may have an impact on the election, particularly in far north Queensland.

 

Infrastructure

 

The LNP has made infrastructure spending a significant part of its policy platform, pledging around $8.6 billion to new infrastructure, including at least $265 million to roads and $532 million for rail projects.

Labor has made no specific announcements on either.

 

Tourism

The LNP has promised $60 million to attract major events and film studies to the state, as well as $20 million towards improving road tourism.

The ALP pledged $40 million over four years to boost tourism numbers and attract major events.

 

Red tape

 

Labor has pledged the creation of a Red Tape Reduction Panel, chaired by the Minster for Small Business, and a council to advise on red, green and blue tape reductions across industries.

The LNP’s policy includes a target to reduce red tape by 20% by 2018 and to ‘find new ways’ to reduce licensing and permit requirements for Queensland small businesses.

 

Skills and startups

 

LNP has its signature $91 million “Jobs of Tomorrow” plan, while Labor has promised $240 million for its “Skilling Queenslanders for Work” program and a $34 million investment in TAFE.

Labor has also pledged $50 million over three years for the Advance Queensland initiative to reinvigorate science and innovation, and a $40 million business development fund for startups.

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