Economy

Fast Lane: Coalition turns back to its small business heartland

Cara Waters /

It’s the budget upon which Prime Minister Tony Abbot and Treasurer Joe Hockey’s careers rest.

After the failed spill attempt against Abbott earlier this year most pundits gave Abbott until the budget to recover.

This week it’s been Hockey’s job security in question as he jostled for news coverage with rising star Social Services Minister Scott Morrison

So the Coalition has turned back to its heartland for this year’s budget.

While Hockey had to warn businesses last year that the budget “would not be easy” for some and called on the business community “to help out”, this year he was emphasising his SME background “growing up in a small business family”. 

Abbott and Hockey have both turned to Small Business Minister Bruce Billson for guidance and the result is a 1.5% company tax cut for those businesses with under $2 million turnover and provision as well for the majority of small businesses which are not incorporated. 

It’s all about small business but it’s also a slight rejig of the very same tax cut promised in last year’s budget.

The tax cut which was never implemented after the spectacular implosion of the 2014 budget in the Senate. 

Nobody in the government is taking the chance this year’s budget will suffer the same fate and so there has been a slow drip feed of almost every measure contained in the 2015 budget over the last few weeks.

They even managed to sneak that nasty paid parental leave backflip out at the last minute on Mother’s Day without a hint of irony. 

This ensures Abbott and Hockey can stick to their promise of a “dull and routine budget”. 

“Our economic plan is working and things are getting better,” Hockey will say in his budget speech. 

That’s despite much of the economic plan never making it past last year’s budget documents.

Abbott and Hockey are betting their careers that the 2015 budget doesn’t suffer the same fate.

For SMEs the stakes are also high.

It’s all well and good to say “this is a budget for small business people who want to innovate and grow”.

The key will be how much of this small business budget is actually delivered.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is the former editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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