Like every part of our community, small business owners are trying to glean what they can from political candidates and make a call that suits their interests come May 18.
A crowd of around 60 people put Friday night footy or a family movie aside to take part in round two of the About Regional Meet the Candidates series at Jindabyne.
Powered by the Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce, high country concerns and issues peppered the agenda.
Local accountant and Chamber member Matt Bell had red tape in mind with his question from the floor.
“Small businesses are quite rightly referred to as the lifeblood of the Australian economy and we have quite a number of thriving businesses here but we have got a lot that are struggling,” Mr Bell explained to seven of the eight candidates gathered.
“One of the things that they struggle with is the level of red tape – filling BAS and increasing information that they have to provide either through tax returns, ABS surveys – which you get fined if you don’t do, [and there’s] contractor reporting now, trying to weed out those who are doing the wrong thing. So the burden has gone back on to small businesses.
“What are you the candidates, going to do to help small businesses tackle this problem. This is hours at home, trying to get this stuff done.”
Sophie Wade, running for The National’s was first to respond.
“Oh the answer is – everything I can do, I know your pain,” Ms Wade said.
“I have to add one thing to your list – the small business clearinghouse change that has come in recently, which just adds another burden on small businesses.
“We need to work out how to streamline all this…it takes a real personal toll.”
Greens candidate Pat Mc Ginlay was next to rise.
“There is a strong misconception out there among a lot of business people that The Greens are not pro-business and that they are anti-business,” he said.
“Its quite to the contrary. One of the problems that The Greens have is with very large international corporations and the fact that they don’t pay their fair share of tax.
“If they did so, perhaps there could be more people employed to streamline the systems as public servants and free up small business to get on with their small business.”
Liberal, Fiona Kotvojs empathized as a small business owner herself.
“One of the real challenges is knowing what regulations you are meant to comply with,” she told the audience gathered.
“It keeps changing and they keep adding things.
“Public servants add things and they don’t take other requirements away.
“We need to look at every piece of data that a small business is asked to collect and ask how does it get used, and it is doesn’t get used we shouldn’t be collecting it.”
Sitting member, Labor’s Mike Kelly said, “I understand perfectly, I’ve heard so much about this.”
“When we were in government we introduced the BAS Easy system, but I think we can go a lot further.
“I put about $350,000 into the Business Enterprise Centre that services this region, to enable those advisers to come down and work with you and talk through how you might get over these things and have less burden but we need to do more.”
Clive Palmer’s man in Eden Monaro, former hotelier Chandra Singh had more practical advice.
“We used MYOB and then we found Xero was the best way to do it and we were able to keep up with our BAS – no problems,” he said.
“The ATO is actually quite helpful before the problem happens.”
The next About Regional ‘Meet the Candidates’ forum is a partnership with the Bega Chamber of Commerce. Tonight, May 7, 5:30 pm (for a 5:45 pm start) to 7:15 pm, Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre, nibbles on arrival, all welcome, free to attend, mingle with candidates from 7:15 pm.