Members of the small business community are optimistic following Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s mini economic summit yesterday that saw business groups and government agree to review a range of tax concessions, including those on superannuation.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry represented SMEs at the three-hour event, which was convened by Turnbull to follow up on the National Reform Summit held at the end of August before the change in the leadership of the federal Liberal Party.
Other attendees at the mini summit included the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS).
Fairfax reports those in the room were unanimous on the need to review tax concessions for superannuation and capital gains tax to ensure the tax breaks are still “fit-for-purpose”.
However, there is still disagreement among the groups about other forms of tax reform, including lifting the rate of the goods and services tax.
Australian Chamber chief executive Kate Carnell told SmartCompany this morning there are a number of areas most groups agreed on.
“It was a very positive meeting, we focused on things we agreed on,” she says.
“What we did agree on in the labour market space is labour market regulation should reflect modern workplaces.
“Everyone agreed modern workplaces are increasingly 24-7 workplaces, that workers are much more mobile … we have an unemployment problem with significant skill gaps.”
Carnell says agreement was also reached on the need to form a “much closer alliance” between business, vocational education and higher education, with the group discussing the possibility that business would liaise more closely with schools to talk about what skills were required.
“We agreed jointly there should be a joining-up of vocation training, TAFE and higher education with a real focus on ensuring skills being trained for the skills business wants,” she says.
Carnell reports work is also underway by the Australian Chamber and ACOSS on a jobs program that would partner job seekers with small businesses.
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“It’s looking at how small business can take on board people who have been unemployed, which takes away risk in that space,” she says.
“Remove the risk for both, for that matter.”
Carnell says the jobs program could involve a training component where an unemployed person may stay on government benefits of a few months while working in a small business before becoming an employee of the business.
Carnell says the attendees at Turnbull’s mini summit all have “an absolute focus on growth”.
“It might make it easier to work with small business and universities in the innovation space,” she adds.