Tackling big issues

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Increasing superannuation contributions, the carbon tax and payroll tax remain the sticking points for small businesses in western Sydney.

On Tuesday evening, St Marys business owners met with the Minister for Small Business, Katrina Hodgkinson [pictured], Mulgoa MP, Tanya Davies and Small Business Commissioner, Yasmin King, to discuss challenges in the current economic climate.

Ms Hodgkinson, who was a small business owner in rural NSW for over 20 years, told the intimate meeting of business owners that she “gets” the difficulties of starting your business for the first time.

“I truly get what it is like to be broke for the first 12 or 24 months, pouring your time and money into your business, and the challenges that entails. When I was a business owner in Bowral, we went through the recession that had to be had with Paul Keating, and then later the droughts,” she said.

“I don’t want to be just another minister who says ‘we have increased spending on small businesses, look how wonderful we are’.”

Ms Hodgkinson cited the establishment of the role of the small business commissioner in August of last year as one step the State Government has already taken to improve the conditions for small business.

“We have stated that for every regulation that is introduced, we must find two that can be removed. It is very easy to put in new regulations and small businesses have been disadvantaged by that,” she said.

“We are also making sure that small businesses who work with government are paid on time. In the past small businesses have been left behind by governments; they don’t like complaining about not being paid on time because these contracts can be a large part of their income they do not want to risk. Now, we are ensuring all small businesses are paid on time.”

When business owners had their chance to express their concerns about the current economic conditions, the debate quickly turned to the current high payroll tax rate in NSW.

Ms Hodgkinson admitted that she personally does not like the idea of payroll tax but that it is an important source of government income.

“NSW has had a high level of payroll tax and threshold but we are taking steps to amend that. The problem we face is that we would need to find a tax to replace it. It is certainly an issue that we have discussed at a ministerial level and an issue we are keen to address,” she said.

Mrs Davies pointed out that the State Government introduced a payroll tax rebate for the first 100,000 genuine jobs created, consisting of a discount of $2,000 in the first year for the additional job, followed by another $2,000 in the second year for that same position. Ms King agreed with business owners that the uncertainty surrounding the carbon tax is a huge issue.

“The problem is that small businesses are being asked to estimate what the cost increase to their operations would be without having proper knowledge… you would have to be a pretty brave person to bet your entire income on treasury’s modelling, which is why I think we may see some businesses over-estimating the cost of the tax.”

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