Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has unveiled his new ministry, including a new Small Business Minister.
Kelly O’Dwyer is set to depart the role to make way for Nationals MP Michael McCormack, who was previously the Assistant Minister for Defence.
McCormack previously owned and operated his own small business in Wagga Wagga for eight years.
“I understand firsthand the vital role small business plays in many local communities,” he says.
“With the Coalition’s focus on ensuring Australia’s small businesses have a champion and voice in the Ministry, I follow in the steps of two outstanding Small Business Ministers in Bruce Billson and Kelly O’Dwyer.
“I am very excited to take on this role and cannot wait to meet with as many small businesses as I can, right across Australia, to hear of their successes and work with them in growing the sector into the future.”
O’Dwyer will maintain a Cabinet position in a new role as Minister for Revenue and Financial Services.
The Prime Minister has, however, removed the Small Business portfolio from Cabinet to sit within the Treasury portfolio.
The CEO of the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA), Peter Strong, praised O’Dwyer’s tenure as Small Business Minister, and says she has done “an exceptional job”.
While COSBOA has welcomed McCormack’s appointment, it is concerned about the removal of the small business portfolio from Cabinet.
“McCormack has the confidence of the sector, however we are disappointed the portfolio has moved from cabinet and we will be seeking answers to why this has happened. Small business is powerful, employing around five million Australians and driving the country’s economy, so why has the portfolio moved?”
Strong questioned what pressures have caused this move. “Perhaps big businesses and unions are in play,” he notes. “In our opinion this is a step backwards for small business.”
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO, James Pearson, agrees it is disappointing small business will no longer have direct representation in Cabinet.
“[However], I welcome McCormack’s appointment as Minister for Small Business and look forward to working closely with him,” Pearson says.
“We look forward to working with Turnbull and his ministers to support business, and the millions of Australians they employ, in order to make Australia a more competitive and prosperous nation.”
Strong is also backing National senator Matthew Canavan’s promotion from Minister for Northern Australia to Minister for Resources and Northern Australia.
“We welcome the appointment of Senator Matthew Canavan into a Cabinet role as he also strongly supports our sector,” he says.
As for the future, the ACCI says the Government needs to continue budget repair while negotiating with a diverse Senate. “I urge the Government to stay the course on economic reform,” adds Pearson.
COSBOA has also highlighted some of the key issues for small business and the economy, which it says includes:
- Competition policy and the enacting the Effects Test
- Creating a viable and effective vocational education and training system
- Confronting the two tiered workplace relation system that see big businesses and big unions manipulating legislation for their benefit not the benefit of workers or of the economy
- Inclusion of the self-employed in the health framework particularly for mental health
- Confronting manipulation of policy by these big businesses and unions
- Creation of a more efficient superannuation collection process.