Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s response last night to the Federal Government’s budget showed that he understood small business, according to the Council of Small Business Australia.
Abbott told Parliament last night the “fundamental” problem with the budget was that it “deliberately, coldly, calculatedly” played the class war card.
He criticised the government’s decision to cancel its previous commitments to company tax cuts and questioned how the Treasurer could be confident of a surplus when this year’s deficit, forecast to be $23 billion in last year’s budget, had grown to $44 billion.
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“It’s an ignoble piece of work from an unworthy Prime Minister that will offend the intelligence of the Australian people,” Abbott said.
“Government should be at least as interested in the creation of wealth as in its redistribution.”
Abbot said the Coalition’s plans for economic growth started with abolishing the carbon tax and the mining tax.
“We’ll cut business red tape costs by at least a billion dollars a year by requiring each government agency to quantify the costs of its reporting and compliance rules and delivering an annual savings target,” he said.
“We will respond carefully but decisively to the problems that the community has identified in the Fair Work Act so that small businesses and their staff can get a fair go and our productivity can increase.”
Abbott confirmed that he would bring in a “fair-dinkum paid parental leave scheme” if elected, which would give mothers six months at full pay with their babies.
“Parental leave is a workplace entitlement not a welfare benefit so should be paid at people’s real wage, like sick leave and holiday pay,” said Abbott.
He also said work-for-the-dole “or some other serious undertaking” would be mandatory for long-term unemployed people under the age of 50.
Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business Australia, told SmartCompany the Coalition “gets small business”.
Strong says small business backed Abbott’s calls to cut business red tape.
“That’s great and that has been part of the Liberals’ policy for a long time now, although I have not heard a figure put on it before,” says Strong.
“It is stuff we want to hear and stuff we are very happy to hear.”
Strong says COSBOA also supports the Coalition’s proposed parental leave scheme.
“He is making big business pay for it, which is fine by me,” says Strong.
“I think it is small business friendly as, importantly, we don’t get involved in the payment process. At the moment, the government sends us the money and we have to pay the person.
“It has been recognised that it makes no sense for small business to pay it as if we do, that would then affect the employment opportunities for women.”
Strong has hit back at criticism that the Coalition’s response to the budget lacked information and detail.
“When you are in opposition it is hard to come up with a full budget as you don’t have the resources for it,” he says.