Minister pledges ongoing support for small business

Senator Michaelia Cash – Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business – has told hundreds of small-business owners, accountants and bookkeepers that helping get small businesses get back on their feet and more Australians back into the workplace are the government’s top priority.

“We’re now on the pathway to recovery and that’s so important to remember,” Senator Cash said. “There is a future and as a government we want to work with small and family businesses across Australia to get you to the other side.”

Senator Cash committed to not increasing taxes, with the focus being on delivering targeted measures to those sectors of the economy that really need it Such measures will include improving access to finance, reducing the red tape that “strangles employment”, increasing digital capability and looking after the mental health of small and family business owners as well as sole traders.

The virtual town hall, hosted by Intuit, was told that technology is the key to getting through this challenging period.

“Those businesses that we saw pivot overnight were able to do so because of their digital capability,” Senator Cash said. “I think that’s a lesson for all of us. We need to make sure small and family businesses that don’t currently have that digital capability are given access to it.”

The Town Hall heard that small businesses had lost customers, seen their earnings “cut to pieces” and in some cases had to suspending business operations for weeks or months.

Many accountants and bookkeepers, despite themselves being heavily impacted by COVID-19, have been providing small businesses and sole traders with financial advice to help them ride out the storm, using tools such as QuickBooks’ Cash Flow Continuity Playbook and Cash Flow Planner.

“We speak with small business owners every day and we’ve been hearing

all the challenges you’re facing,” Natira Drayton, Intuit Australia’s country manager, told the Town Hall. “Our mission is to back Australian small businesses and our team has been working really hard to help.”

Senator Cash acknowledged the double blow small business had faced this year, with drought and bushfires a big enough challenge in their own right, before the global pandemic.

“We had to make tough but necessary decisions to close the Australian economy. The government took those decisions because it was fighting a war on the health front and had to prioritise the health and wellbeing of all Australians,” Senator Cash said.

“At the same time we understood that when you take the decision to close businesses down, you have a responsibility to put in place the necessary support mechanisms. They needed to be bold and had to be accessed as quickly as possible.”

Senator Cash stressed the importance of remaining vigilant and following guidelines to minimise the chances of the virus taking hold.

“For small and family businesses out there, it’s so important if there is an outbreak that we don’t need to close down the whole economy,” Senator Cash said. “From my point of view it’s all about the COVID Safe economy, understanding as a business what that means to me, getting in place my digital capability and understanding the containment measures in the event of an outbreak, so we don’t need to return to where we have come from.

“I’m genuinely humbled by the small businesses across the country employing more than six million Australians every day. You are the backbone of the Australian economy and you deserve support from your government every step of the way,” Senator Cash concluded.

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