Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has said that Labor will look to introduce a small business minister in cabinet after the position was removed during Malcolm Turnbull’s tenure.
“Labor will have the shadow minister portfolio as a Cabinet-level position. It is critical that small business has representation at the most senior levels of the Commonwealth government,” a Labor spokesperson told Accountants Daily.
Speaking to Accountants Daily, CPA Australia general manager external affairs Paul Drum said Labor’s direction was welcomed but stressed the need for security around the position.
“Whether the statement from shadow treasurer Chris Bowen means small business will be tacked onto the portfolio of a cabinet minister such as is currently the case with Senator the Honourable Michaela Cash, and is currently the case in the shadow cabinet, where Mr Bowen is also shadow minister for small business or whether it has its own standalone minister as it was under former small business minister Bruce Billson remains to be seen,” said Mr Drum.
“It is also important that a future government considers where to place small business administratively.
“For example, small business has not only had a multitude of ministers, it has also been shuffled around within the bureaucracy many times, currently sitting in the Department of Jobs and Small Business. Prior to that it was within the Treasury portfolio,” he added.
“CPA Australia is of the view that placing small business back into the Treasury portfolio would have small business closer to the heart of economic decision making in this country.”
Mr Drum also said that a future small business minister under a Labor government would need to consider the impact of its announced policies on the sector, including introducing a $3,000 limit on the cost of managing tax affairs and a minimum 30 per cent tax rate for discretionary trust distributions.
“If Labor successfully forms government, a major focus of the new small business minister must be to represent the interests of the sector in the development of the relevant detail relating to Labor’s tax policies,” said Mr Drum.
“While both of these policies are alleged to target the wealthy, small businesses are likely to be hardest hit if the policies proceed and are not well-designed.
“For example, a sole trader who spends a few thousand dollars a year to help them comply with our complex tax laws will be out of pocket under Labor’s proposal to cap the deduction for the cost of managing tax affairs to $3,000 per annum.”
Labor has looked to roll out its support for small businesses in the build up to the federal election, including the introduction of the Australian Investment Guarantee, which will allow businesses to immediately deduct 20 per cent of any new eligible asset worth more than $20,000.
It has also tabled a proposal to introduce a new Second Commissioner of Appeals within the ATO in a bid to ensure there is independence in the review process for small business disputes, although that has been met with resistance from within the ATO.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.