Opinion: Business battlers need not bother

JUST when you thought Scott Morrison’s Liberal government of Australia was doing something new, at last, to assist the struggling small business economies like Fremantle and Perth, they pull the rug from right under your feet.

There was a front page announcement of a bright new program tucked away on the front page of the West Australian recently but, strangely for the West, it was very light on detail.

It was about the launch of the Australian Business Growth Fund announced with gusto by Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Devil in the detail

And like most government announcements, the devil is in the detail.

Only businesses that can show at least three years’ profitability and growth need apply for ‘funding’. So new and struggling business that need a cash investment won’t be eligible.

The ‘funding’ however is in the form of a capital interest in the business of up to a 40 per cent stake.

Therefore the fund is effectively akin to the reality television shows Dragons Den or Shark Tank, with the successful applicants having to convince the yet to be determined fund board of their business’s merits and have them as ‘partners’.

In addition, because the ‘Big Four’ banks – ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac – will be providing the lion’s share of the big bucks for the fund, they are free to refer their own business customers to it.

This will no doubt also raise the potential for favouritism in the ‘funding’ process.

Especially if the findings of the Haynes banking royal commission fall on barren ground and the banks continue to rob customers’ accounts, sell fraudulent financial products, fund international terrorism or give a leg up to child sex offenders as one or other has done with abandon over the years.

Good one Josh Frydenberg!

A real winner from a national treasurer who has yet to do anything meaningful for small business.

And a good one too for the prime minister Scott Morrison –- “if you have a go you get a go” – jumping into bed with preferential deals for serial offenders at the big end of town.

Who’s going to “give a go” to the small business battlers of Fremantle and Perth who continue to struggle through WA’s four-year long economic ‘drought’ with no hope in sight?

By Andrew Smith and Brayn Zemunik

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