To my elected governments at all levels
As an advisor to business owners and a business owner myself, I feel compelled to write this letter in the hope that one day some of these issues businesses are experiencing are resolved. Below is some of the items I would like you to consider when developing policy that I see are creating real issues for small businesses Australia wide:
1: Cut Red Tape
The amount of administration involved in navigating through the myriad of forms, procedures, rules and regulations is time consuming and costly. Local, state and federal governments all impose their own rules and regulations which in many cases duplicate each other.
Please, government at all levels sit down together and review your systems, legislation and operations. Cut out duplication and think of how we the end user will cope with the changes.
2: Simplify Taxes
Just when you have dealt with complying (and paying) taxes to the federal government, (income tax, GST, FBT etc), the state governments step in to impose their own taxes,(e.g. Payroll tax, land tax and stamp duty.) So just when I thought I have finished, I have to go through the process of now complying with state taxation requirements.
Then, just to put the icing on the cake, local governments then impose taxes in the form of council rates and permits.
When do you expect business owners to operate their businesses when they are constantly trying to comply with three different sets of government who impose three different levels of taxation on their operations? Wasn’t the original intention of GST to generate revenue for the states and provide for a simpler process?
Whilst I completely understand the need for taxation to ensure governments can provide essential services, do I really need to contend with three different layers of government each taking their cut of business profits?
Taxes need to be both simple to administer and understand. Simplified taxes can be used to provide a true global advantage to attract investment in Australia.
3: Encourage business to employ staff
Business need an Industrial Relations systems that is fair to both employers and employees. The complexity of Fair Work Act puts business off of employing people. This needs to change to ensure that it achieves the right balance between protecting employees and stimulating employment.
Another disincentive is the high cost of employment, (e.g. Payroll Tax, WorkCover.) Whilst there has been some relief in this area over the past few years, the fact still remains – why do you tax those who want to employ people? Isn’t it enough that governments receive income tax from people who are working that you also require businesses to pay for the privilege of employing people and stimulating the economy?
Payroll tax is nothing more than an archaic tax which is truly well past its use by date!
4: Efficient and Effective Infrastructure
The delivery of goods and services by business is dependent on infrastructure. Unfortunately, much of this is ageing and in dire need of upgrade. Whilst there has been some activity in this area where is the grand plan? In the past we had projects like the Snowy Mountain Hydro Electric Scheme, in SA it was the manufacturing push of the Playford era – they were long term projects that spanned well beyond the election cycle. Unfortunately governments are now too caught up in the election cycle to look beyond the next term of government.
Ultimately what I’m asking for is simple, help business save time and costs. Avoid the big think tanks, glossy brochures, websites and numerous public servants which purport to offer advice. Provide targeted help in the form of tax relief, efficient infrastructure and simplification of processes. The flow on effects are not only a healthy bottom line for business, but an economy that would truly be the envy of the world.