Small Business Council urges new leadership “let’s get on with it”!

The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) today congratulated Scott Morrison on becoming the new Prime Minister of Australia and look forward to hearing what the coalition have in store for small business.

“Thanks Malcolm, welcome to the new team, now let’s get on with it,” declared Peter Strong, Small Business Advocate and CEO, COSBOA, on Friday after a tumultuous week in Canberra.

“Mr Morrison has done an excellent job with the Australian economy and has shown a great understanding of and support for small business. We believe in his new role as Prime Minister, this will only continue to improve. We also thank Malcolm Turnbull for what he achieved in office; the economy has improved under his leadership,” Strong added.

COSBOA is very aware that while the Liberal Party leadership drama was unfolding, small businesses continued to operate, providing employment, services and products to the Australian community. And the contribution of the sector to the country will be underlined at next week’s Vodafone National Small Business Summit, which will focus on energy, telecommunications, regulations and the future for small business.

Inside Small Business spoke to Peter Strong last week about what the conference will offer.

“I’m very interested to see what Chris Bowen, the Shadow Treasurer, has to say about small business and the role it plays in our economy,” Strong told ISB. “From the other side of politics we’ll also hear from Josh Frydenberg, with energy prices and supply a key focus of the conference.” [Frydenberg on Friday was elected by the Liberal Party Room as the new Deputy Prime Minister].

The conference will highlight the role industry associations play in supporting and advocating for small business.

“Industry associations in the main they deliver a lot of value to their members, and we want to emphasise what the real estate association, booksellers’ association and so on do for business,” Strong said. “For example, a few years ago the building industry association challenged the government over the safety of pink batts insulation – the government accused them of just sticking up for the interests but they were proved to be right.”

Strong added that small-business owners who are members of associations sponsor and play a hand in running thousands of charities and community sports associations around the country.

“Julie Owens, member for Parramatta and assistant shadow minister for small business, will be on the industry associations panel,” Strong told us. “Julie set up the industry association that looks after the interests of independent musicians a number of years ago.”

The rise of “Big Data” will be addressed. “Data is nothing without people,” Strong said. “There is a trust issue with data. In the days of old we had bank managers, they sent data back to their head office but they were solidly grounded in their local communities – their kids went to school with their customers’ kids – so they brought a greater sense of understanding individual, personal circumstances to their decision-making. It’s no coincidence that research shows BOQ and Bendigo Bank are the most trusted banks today – they are community banks that still have local branch managers.”

The Google panel at the conference will explore how we can regain a balance between raw data and the human impact.

Of equal prominence will be the role women play as small-business leaders.

“Kiki Fullerton is going to run a panel on women in business which will include Kathy McGowan,” Strong explained. “I did some work in the nineties with the All-China Women’s Federation and the UN – in China a lot of women set up businesses because there isn’t a social welfare net to look after them.

“This set me to thinking ,‘do women in remoter areas set up their own businesses because they find it harder to get paid employment’.”

Strong believes that we pay too much attention to employees via initiatives such as paid parental leave, domestic abuse leave etc. – all of which apply for female employees but not for female business owners.

“When I started in this role 27 per cent of our businesses were run by women, today that figure is 44 per cent,” Strong said.

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