OpEd: Bill Shorten’s uninformed mob out to milk small business - The Australian
OpEd, The Australian, 11 August 2017
My dad was a farmer. Wheat, mainly. Nothing “new-fandangled’’, like canola, he used to say.
Sometimes he and I went to the saleyards and brought back with us the hope that cattle might be good that season. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
Ours was like every farming family: some years were better than others.
Whether in the schoolyard, the saleyard or the back yard, in the country you see that ups and downs of weather patterns and commodity prices don’t stop at the farm gate.
Yet as Labor rushes to the till for another tax grab, it spares no second thought for small business.
Farmers and small businesses have more in common than a postcode.
The Liberals and Nationals know when farms do well. So do stock and station agents. So do machinery dealers. So does every single small business in that community.
That’s why we redefined small business, extended the instant asset write-off and cut tax.
We know good seasons mean more jobs and new starts and opportunities for country people in small business.
But Labor’s tax grab forgets that just like those over the farm gate, small businesses often use a trust to manage in times that aren’t as good.
Just like farmers, small businesspeople aren’t millionaires. They’re not tax cheats and they certainly don’t see their turnover as some ill-gotten gain to fund Labor’s tax-and-spend agenda.
One year in small business, you may get a good batch of orders. A new market may open up. You may have a good idea which pays off. Others, you may not.
A drought can mean small trucking companies in a region don’t do as well because there’s not as much stock to move. So markets in the city sell less stock as well and suburban corner stores pay more for product, maybe passing it on to customers.
Just like for those over the farm gate, it’s tough. The only difference is Bill Shorten’s Labor Party thinks those truckies, those market holders, those corner stores, should pay 30 per cent more in tax.
So, it says, should shops in town and family enterprises whose orders might even help a farmer get back on their feet. While it lectures those who dare call out its tax grab, Labor parrots that Australians in small business are millionaires.
It cries crocodile tears for those on the farm, a first by anyone’s measure, but not for those who ferry the farmer’s food and fibre, or those whose small business it feeds.
Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen told parliament Labor understood “trusts can play a role in asset protection and they can play a role in succession planning”, adding, “we support that”.
Support, that is, unless you’re in small business.
Because support through seasonal ups and downs sounds like a hand-out when you’ve always had a salary.
For so many on Labor’s benches, union-fed salaries were a rite of passage on their path to parliament; a far cry from making your own way in small business. While Labor tries to justify the need for small business to pay 30 per cent more tax on trusts, remember this: when it rained too much and the highway was cut, they got paid. When it didn’t rain at all and there was no stock to move, they got paid. And when low commodity prices meant country small businesses suffered, they got paid.
It’s little wonder it simply does not understand small business.
It’s little wonder it voted against our productivity-enhancing small business tax cuts and our redefinition that meant tens of thousands more paid less tax and received access to small business concessions.
It’s little wonder it wants to scrap incentives to cut red tape and end eligibility for the instant asset write-off when it just doesn’t comprehend small business.
So instead of calling those who dare have a go and create jobs “millionaires”, Labor should go back to the drawing board and join the Liberals and Nationals’ support for small business.
Michael McCormack is federal Small Business Minister and The Nationals’ MP for Riverina.