Budget 2014: Abbott’s no friend of small business, says opposition

Budget 2014: Abbott’s no friend of small business, says opposition

Opposition small business spokesperson Bernie Ripoll has slammed the government’s 2014-15 budget, telling SmartCompany this morning “there is nothing in this budget for small business”.

“I don’t think there is anything anyone will like in this budget, particularly small business,” said Ripoll, who listed the increase in petrol excise and cuts to support for apprenticeships and skills and training programs as among the big blows.

Ripoll said small businesses were “smashed” before the budget, and as a result of many of the measures included in the budget, will be far worse off. 

“Support for apprentices has been axed, to the tune of nearly $1 billion. That’s a direct cost to the apprentices and to businesses,” said Ripoll.

“This government also has a very myopic view of innovation and industry,” said Ripoll in reference to the decision to abolish Commercialisation Australia and other organisations designed to support SMEs.

“These are programs that business desperately need and it is how business grows,” he said.

At the same time, Ripoll criticised the government’s decision to cut funding to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, whose role it is to protect small businesses.

“There is nothing in this budget for small business [and] Tony Abbott has proven he is anything but the friend of small business,” said Ripoll.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has vowed to vote against a number of key budget measures, including the changes to the pension age and fuel excise and the introduction of a Medicare co-payment.

Shorten told journalists this morning the Labor Party believes raising the level of fuel excise by reintroducing indexation “is a bad idea in the current circumstances”.

He said his party will “fight and fight and fight for Medicare” but would not say whether the opposition will support the government’s deficit levy on high-income earners, instead returning to his pre-budget accusations of “broken promises”.

“First of all, Tony Abbott said no new taxes under a government he leads … he said no nation ever taxes its way to prosperity. It was a lie,” said Shorten.

Similar comments were made by shadow treasurer Chris Bowen last night, with the former small business minister saying in a statement the country had “been hit with a budget of broken promises, cruel cuts and unfair increases in the cost of living”.

“This is a budget built on the wrong choices and wrong priorities for Australia’s future,” said Bowen, highlighting what he called “$80 billion in savage cuts to schools and hospitals”, “the destruction of Medicare”, and “the end of fair and affordable higher education”.

Bowen was also scathing of the government’s proposed paid parental leave scheme, which he labelled as the “wrong priority”. “It delivers more money to high-income earners that don’t need it,” he said.

“Labor understands that in challenging times, budgets need tough choices. But these are the wrong choices for our future,” said Bowen.

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