Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has promised to double the existing annual rate of small business growth to 1.5% if elected.
Abbott made the pledge at the Menzies Research Centre Small Business Round Table hosted by CPA Australia this morning.
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“If elected a Coalition government will aim to double the existing annual rate of small business growth. There is no reason, no reason whatsoever, why we should not be able to achieve an annual growth rate in the number of small business of 1.5%,” Abbott says.
“This is what the Howard government was achieving but unfortunately the Labour government has not come close.”
Abbott says the rate of small business growth in Australia has “reduced dramatically” under the current government.
“We will restore the rate of growth of small business because we understand that small business is the engine room of our economy,” he says.
Abbott says if the target of 1.5% growth can be achieved Australia will add more than 30,000 new small businesses each year.
He says a Coalition government’s focus will be specifically on growing the number of small businesses that employ and that provide jobs.
“This is an important part of building our nation. I want the artisans of our country to feel they can open businesses; I want the baristas of our country to feel that they can open cafes,” he says.
He did not detail how a Coalition government would increase small business growth but he repeated previously announced policies to have a small business minister in federal cabinet “because small business must be heard by the highest council in the land” and to reduce business red tape costs by $1 billion a year.
He says a Coalition government will stand up for the rights of independent contractors and reduce administration for superannuation.
“We will allow a small business to send one cheque to the Australian Tax Office for super and then for the ATO to do the rest,” he says.
Abbott says his proposed paid parental leave scheme would not cost small businesses and would benefit them.
“We will have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and won’t expect small business to do the paperwork for it. The cost of our scheme will not be borne by small business,” he says.
Abbott told the round table he was committed to small business and had made about 170 visits to small businesses since the last election.
“It is important that I do that because there is no substitute to talking to people in their workplace; there is no substitute to being on the spot,” he says.
Abbott says the Gillard government does not understand small business in the way the Coalition does as it is “owned and operated by the union movement” and does not have experience in small business.
“I wish to assure the small businesses of Australia that the Coalition gets small business. We always have and we always will,” he says.
“Many of us have been in small business, all of us appreciate that small business is the creative heart of a strong and prosperous economy.”
This story first appeared on SmartCompany.