The following is a response sent to the Australian Financial review commenting on their front page lead on April 2. The extent to which the various authorities impose burdens on businesses whilst seeking to assist is mind-boggling, but what is more disturbing, they do not appear ot understand.

Dear Sir,

Re:  “Budget plan to help small business”, Thursday April 2 front page headline

The article refers to an extension of the current tax investment incentive, an extremely worthwhile measure, labour market schemes to assist employment, also probably useful, although inevitably carrying an administrative burden for the recipient business, and notes the looming difficulty in accessing credit, as the headline issues facing small businesses.

Across the range of small businesses I work with, largely in the relatively mature food industry in one way or another the greatest problem is not any of these three, but the largely unrecognised impact of the compliance costs of the regulatory regimes they groan under imposed, often inconsistently by the three levels of government and their various agencies.

There have been many promises, and some genuine efforts, to reduce the burden of red tape on small business, none have done anything more that fiddle at the edges, and the burden continues to grow with each “initiative” introduced by someone in a striped suit.

If small business owners I work with could take just a small percentage of the time and resources currently devoted to non value adding compliance and regulatory agency revenue raising activities, and put it into the stuff they do best, the crisis would be quickly over.

Small businesses are often called the backbone of the economy. This is usually said in a positive manner. The alternative interpretation is that small business provides the strength upon which much of the rest feeds, diminishing its capacity to create jobs, and wealth by the hard work, innovation, insight, and sheer determination that most display.

Crises are usually the only  time to introduce change that really “sticks” so lets not waste this opportunity that is emerging out of the undoubted pain in the economy, with more to come yet,  for genuine change by being too timid to tackle the real issues weighing down the performance of the ‘backbone of the economy”