Deregulation agenda to cut small business obstacles

By Nick Hall | 11 Dec 2019 View comments

A renewed government focus on small business growth is set to see more Australians employed and more businesses expand. New measures outlined in the recently announced deregulation agenda put small business owners in the box set, with a firm emphasis on employment.

The new agenda points were handed down as part of the federal government’s deregulation taskforce proceedings, a body that was established earlier this year to combat growing small business concerns.

Prime Minister Morrison said the agenda focused on reducing the obstacles that prevent economic growth and job creation.

“We want to create the space for businesses in our economy to back themselves and take our growth to the next level,” Prime Minister Morrison said.

“Our deregulation agenda has a laser focus on reducing the regulatory compliance burden on business. The reforms we’re delivering hone in on what we’ve been hearing directly from Australian businesses that will help them grow and employ more people.”

Deregulation agenda proposals

The deregulation agenda reforms specifically target employment barriers for small businesses and franchisees. Among them, a new online checklist that outlines the minimum pay, conditions, tax and superannuation for employees is set to be introduced.

The checklist comes in response to growing concerns over wage theft and award miscalculation. Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said any initiative that simplified wage and industry regulations was encouraging.

“Small and family businesses are crying out for a simplified system, so they can get on with the job of growing their business,” she said.

“While this may assist small businesses in hiring a staff member, the industrial award system itself remains highly complex and fluid for small business owners to navigate. That’s why my office is calling on the government to develop an algorithm to be integrated into accounting software to make it easier for small and family businesses to pay wages and entitlements correctly and on time. “

Additionally, the deregulation agenda sets out to simplify business registers, making it easier for small businesses to interact with government bodies.

Ombudsman’s recommendations

While Carnell voiced her support for the deregulation agenda, the ombudsman also suggested further reform was needed.

“The next logical move would be to clarify the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, to give small and family businesses the confidence they need to employ more Australians,” she said.

Earlier this year, Carnell’s office provided the government with its review of the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, which recommended a suite of changes to help small business employers meet their obligations.

The ombudsman confirmed that while the deregulation agenda was a positive start for the sector, she would continue working with the government to ensure small business owners get their fair share.

“It’s also critical the government consults widely as part of the deregulation process, which my office is ready to play an active role in, so the small business community is part of these important discussions that affect them directly,” Carnell said.

“We will continue to work with the government to achieve the best possible outcomes for the small business sector.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg agreed.

“As well as overseeing the implementation of initial measures, the taskforce will continue to identify more reforms to help business,” he said.

“There is more work to do and the deregulation taskforce will report back in the new year on further opportunities to reduce the regulatory burden focused on regulatory and legislative design and reduction.”