Retailers shocked by small-business minister shake-up

Kelly O’Dwyer has replaced Bruce Billson as small business minister in the first Turnbull cabinet, prompting calls for the new Government ministry to follow through on the commitments made to small businesses and tax reforms.

The Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) has congratulated Ms O’Dwyer on her elevation to the cabinet, while also expressing concern over Mr Billson’s removal.

COSBOA CEO Peter Strong described Mr Billson as a “great minister doing a fabulous job, who has received intense praise from small business for his measurable level of success”.

“Did vested interests in big business successfully have Bruce removed because he created fairness?” he asked.

“There is no doubt that the decision to remove Bruce Billson from the cabinet and the small-business ministry has sent a shockwave through the small-business community.”

Mr Strong said COSBOA looks forward to catching up with Ms O’Dwyer to discuss issues of immediate relevance to the 2.1 million small-business people in Australia.

“We especially look forward to continuing the dialogue with the Government to implement the effects test and the more robust competition and innovation that will come as a result,” he said. “We further look forward to discussing safe harbours for small-business people undergoing stress in their business, in which we know Ms O’Dwyer has an interest.”

Meanwhile, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is calling on the new Turnbull Government ministry to follow through on the commitments made to small businesses, including the introduction of a competition effects test and instatement of the zero value import threshold before July 2017.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the ARA is pleased to see small business remains in the cabinet, with the assistant treasury portfolio covering many important areas for the retail sector: from the FSI payments reform to the Harper Review competition recommendations.

“It is now incumbent on the Turnbull Government to commence the task of implementing many of the recommendations which have been made in recent reviews from the Productivity Commission, Harper Review to the FSI,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Independent retail businesses are demanding that the Coalition bring in an effects test as per the recommendations of the Harper review, while a reduction in penalty rates for retailers is crucial in the upcoming Fairwork review.

“The ARA looks forward to working with all key economic productivity ministers, including Treasurer Scott Morrison, Simon Birmingham through education, Alex Hawke as Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, and Mathias Cormann in finance.”

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