A peak lobby group has called for the appointment of a dedicated federal minister to represent the interests of family-owned businesses, following the first National Family Business Day.
Family Business Australia, led by chief executive Philippa Taylor, is the peak body for family business, aiming to support them through “personal, professional and community development”.
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Yesterday was the inaugural National Family Business Day, with a special morning tea at Parliament House to mark the occasion.
According to Taylor, National Family Business Day has attracted an “overwhelming” level of support from Australian politicians.
“National Family Business Day is all about celebrating Australia’s innovation and the families that took a risk around a business idea to create value for generations to come,” Taylor says.
“Thirty-six federal members and senators will be showing their support for the family businesses in their electorates by attending the event.”
“Forty-eight will be supporting the day through other activities.”
According to Taylor, the family business sector accounts for 70% of all Australian businesses, employs 50% of the Australian workforce and is worth $4.3 trillion.
But despite being the “backbone of Australia”, Taylor says it is largely ignored by government.
“It is usually lumped together with small business and not consulted about policies that affect it, especially in relation to industrial relations, trusts, taxation and harmonisation,” she says.
Family Business Australia would like to see a minister appointed to government who recognises the role of family businesses in the Australian economy.
It has even drafted up a job advertisement, which seeks a “passionate, articulate” parliamentary representative, and outlines the issues they would need to address:
- Raise awareness of the contribution the family business sector makes to the Australian economy, community and culture.
- Support national universities to achieve funding to address the needs of the sector.
- Push for reliable ABS data on family-owned enterprises.
- Move goal posts with regard to trust legislation.
- Address overregulation.
According to Taylor, it is important to provide education in all areas of family business governance to avoid perpetuating the “clogs to clogs in three generations” adage.
“Many of Australia’s largest and most loved companies started off as a family business,” she says.
“The defining characteristic of family business that sets it apart from any other business structure is the intention to ‘endure’.”
“This focus on creating value for future generations rather than turning a quick profit is what makes family business especially important to the Australian economy.”