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Fast Lane: Maurice Newman’s out and it’s time for small business to get a say on PM’s Business Advisory Council

Cara Waters /

The chair of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council is now up for grabs with Maurice Newman vacating the role recently.

While there has been no official announcement on Newman’s departure the Business Advisory Council’s website has been quietly updated to show the chairman’s role as “vacant”.

I understand Newman’s two-year term as chair was up but also that new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is not a fan of Newman.

“They don’t get on at all,” one insider says.

Since its creation, by former prime minister Tony Abbott two years ago, the Business Advisory Council has come under fire for not including any small business representatives.

The 11 members of the council were almost exclusively drawn from the top end of town including BHP chairman Jacques Nasser, National Australia Bank chairman Michael Chaney, Telstra chairman Catherine Livingstone, Premier Investments chairman Solomon Lew, Fox Group Holdings executive chairman Peter Fox and Grocon chief executive Daniel Grollo.

At the time, Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia expressed small businesses disappointment at being left out of the heavy-hitting council.

“We just can’t believe that after all the promises we’re stuck with the same old group of people, it’s like nothing’s changed,” he told SmartCompany.

The departure of Newman gives a great opportunity to Turnbull to finally get some small business representation on the council.

The Prime Minister could use this as a chance to show he really does care about small business and he is not just going to side with big business.

There are around 2 million small businesses out there which need to have their voice heard.

Small businesses are Australia’s largest employer, employing an estimated 5 million Australians. 

Yet they’ve been completely snubbed from the Business Advisory Council so far.

It’s not like there’s a shortage of talented small business representatives that could make a real contribution to chairing the PM’s Business Advisory Council.

Malcolm, it’s time to give small business a say. 

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is a former SmartCompany editor. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter for the Financial Times' website and worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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