Big Money: The small business election

It’s easy to feel despondent about politics.

The past three years have been brutal. Both our prime ministers in the period were subjected to intense, personal attacks on their character and fitness to govern. Whether or not you supported Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd, there’s something sad about the coarsening of the debate over this time. It’s been exhausting if nothing else.

But this election, there’s been a real focus on the issues that matter.

The most controversial election policy, the Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme, is undoubtedly a bold, creative proposal to solve an entrenched societal problem. Love it or hate it, the fact that we’re arguing about it is exactly what politics should be about.

It’s been astonishing to see how much small business has been discussed this election. Labor, the Coalition, and even the Greens have been offering unique, sensible and creative policies to try and snare the SME vote.

And while we wish our current and potential small business ministers, Gary Gray and Bruce Billson respectively, had answered the questions we sent their offices two weeks ago to try and get to the bottom of what we could expect from whoever ends up in the role, it’s hard to be unhappy about the range of policies on offer this election.

Both parties have packed some doozies. Labor recently cut apprenticeship incentive payments, while the Coalition has waved goodbye to the instant asset tax write-off and the loss carry-back provisions.

But they’re also both offering some genuine improvements.

Labor promises to take superannuation out of the hands of businesses with up to 100 employees, and those employing fewer than 20 will no longer have to administer the paid parental leave scheme.

The Coalition, on the other hand, is giving SMEs a 1.5% company tax cut. SMEs will benefit from access to a generous paid parental leave scheme they won’t have to pay for. And it will make a new HECs-style loans scheme available to apprentices.

Even the Greens have something to offer SMEs: a 2% cut to the corporate tax rate for companies turning over less than $2 million a year.

This election has been a watershed moment for small business in this country. Here at SmartCompany, we’re hoping this focus continues.

There’s plenty of reason to be hopeful.


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