EARLIER this year, the Kiama and District Chamber of Commerce joined the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Too Big to Ignore campaign and president Barry Hayward said members hoped whichever party won the election would cut red tape for small business.
‘‘People don’t know necessarily what’s required of them on things like insurance or superannuation ... and they don’t have the time to find out,’’ he said.
‘‘We don’t care who wins but someone needs to take it up.’’
In their policy documents, the major parties say they have the interests of small business at heart. They have said they will cut red tape, with the Coalition claiming it will cut costs to small business by $1 billion a year. Labor said it would work with the states to eliminate overlapping regulations.
The Coalition is set to cut the company tax to 28.5 per cent.
The Greens have proposed a cut to 28 per cent for businesses earning less than $2 million a year.
Liberal candidate Ann Sudmalis said she did not have access to the costings. However, she ruled out cuts to education and health to fund the tax break.
‘‘We’ve guaranteed education funding for four years, and we’ve announced $40 million for rural doctors,’’ she said.
Greens candidate Terry Barratt said it was not unreasonable to give small business a tax break.
In addition, the Coalition said it would ensure big and small businesses would be on a level playing field by extending unfair contract protection to small businesses. It would also enable government departments to manage superannuation and paid parental leave on small businesses’ behalf.
The Greens want to extend the instant write-off for all assets of less than $6500 to $10,000 and give the Small Business Commissioner legislative backing, with a doubled budget of $10 million.
Mr Barratt said eliminating $13.85 billion in tax breaks to the mining industry would cover The Greens’ policies.
Labor has promised to fund the Small Business Advisory Service for another four years and provide a research and development tax incentive to double support for businesses.
Labor candidate Neil Reilly said the Minister for Small Business would become a cabinet position and he had some ideas of his own.
‘‘I will hold a round table once a month to tell me which policies are working and which are not.’’
Jamberoo dairy farmer Lynne Strong said agriculture now was much more than just farming.
‘‘It is part of a really important value chain that goes beyond the farm gate and into everyone’s homes and we want government to see it in this light,’’ she said.
‘‘Farming is tough and our farmers are doing it tough. . . and we can’t expect them to produce food and fibre for the world for nothing.’’
She said serious investment in research and development was needed, which could deliver farmers a fair return with a short turnaround.
‘‘All of the power lies at the top of the supply chain ...
‘‘If we are going to level the playing field, we need smart young people farming.
‘‘We need to identify them, engage them and provide them with the skills and knowledge to actively participate in, and extract greater value from, the supply chain.’’
Both Labor and the Coalition have committed to maximising agricultural output. However, both are silent on the $1-a-litre milk price wars in their policy documents so far, with The Greens the only party to outline a strategy.
The Greens have committed to strengthening competition laws by introducing an anti-price-discrimination clause and giving the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission the power to break up the Coles-Woolworths duopoly.
They would also strengthen country-of-origin labelling laws so consumers knew where their food was grown and processed
‘‘In my view, it’s not going to change unless the legislation is altered,’’ Mr Barratt said.
During Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon’s visit to Jerrara last week, he said a voluntary agreement between farmers, processors and the supermarkets was his preferred way to address the problem.
Mr Reilly said the government needed to work with farmers to give them the capacity to access the Asian market, while encouraging farmers in the domestic market to diversify.
‘‘It is up to the government to protect its interests and look to the ACCC to at least level the playing field,’’ he said.
Despite The Greens’ claim the Coalition has only promised an inquiry into the matter, Ms Sudmalis said Opposition agriculture spokesman John Cobb would change ACCC legislation.
‘‘He’s a farmer and he’s got a strong grip on what needs to done,’’ she said.