Small business is the engine room of Australia’s economy

The above is not just a line a politician trots out. This is something I believe deeply, and not only that, it’s a national, economic, cultural and community reality. 

Led by the party for small business, the Abbott Government wants Australia to be the best place to start and grow a small business. And we’re doing all we can to make that a reality.

For so many of our small businesses, few things hit the hip pocket quite like petrol prices.

This is why, last year, I directed the ACCC to monitor fuel markets more regularly and produce quarterly reports that pinpoint areas of concern or interest. These are available on the ACCC’s website and are a great source of information.   

The Government also gave the ACCC the power to ‘deep dive’ into specific markets or aspects of the fuel industry. As part of this, the first regional petrol-market studies are underway in Darwin and Launceston. The ACCC will announce the third regional location shortly.

The quarterly reports and deep dives will help us work out why petrol prices are so high in some areas.

The findings will arm Australians with the information they need to choose where they fill up, encourage competition, and enable the ACCC to take enforcement action where it can.

Beyond petrol, the Government is also working hard to create a fairer, healthier and more competitive environment so that our efficient small businesses can thrive. The new Franchising Code of Conduct, which began on January 1, is an important part of this work.

The new code means the ACCC – and individual franchisees – can take action against franchisors committing opportunistic and unfair conduct. The code also contains new protections to prohibit franchisors from imposing significant capital expenditure, for such as shop fit-outs, except in limited circumstances.

These reforms will result in $8.6 million in red-tape savings, and add to the $5.5 billion Growing Jobs and Small Business package the Government announced in the recent budget.

This is the biggest such package in Australia’s history, with tax relief for small businesses and, of course, the ability to deduct all eligible assets costing less than $20,000 until the end of June 2017.

As I sat in parliament that night listening to Treasurer Joe Hockey, I could hear the cheers of small business owners across Australia. It was a game-changing moment for small business and I want those moments to continue.

So the year ahead will be a busy one. Particularly important will be the review of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) beginning in 2016. This will look at the effectiveness of the ACL in protecting consumers without imposing unnecessary red tape on businesses, as well as its ability to respond to emerging issues – among them, more consumers transacting online and with overseas retailers.

This is a great time for small business – it’s the new black. As a former small business owner, I know how hard our entrepreneurs work and the challenges and opportunities they face every day.

As Small Business Minister, it’s my mission to put the spotlight on those issues and solve them, and to create the right environment so businesses can take advantage of opportunities.

We’re getting there – and I won’t be finished until Australia is the best place to start and grow a business.

Bruce Billson
Small Business Minister

Bruce Billson was sworn in as the Minister for Small Business and as a Cabinet Minister with responsibilities in the Treasury portfolio, including for competition and consumer affairs, on September 18, 2013.

He was first elected to the Australian parliament in 1996 to represent the outer Melbourne coastal constituency of Dunkley.

Mr Billson was the shadow minister for small business from 2009 and previously served as the minister for veterans’ affairs and minister assisting the minister for defence in the Howard government.

He also held a number of parliamentary secretary roles in the portfolios of foreign affairs and trade, and immigration, multicultural and indigenous affairs.

As a former small business owner, Mr Billson understands the issues facing small businesses and is passionate about his portfolio. He is deeply committed to the enterprising women and men working in the ‘engine room’ of our economy, and to ensuring Australia is the best place to start and grow a business.

Having grown up in a community not without its challenges, Mr Billson firmly believes a person’s postcode should not determine their potential. His motto, ‘positive, passionate and persistent’, captures his approach to his work for those he has the honour to represent.

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