Business adds vibrancy

Small business commissioner David Eaton and Melville mayor George Gear. Photo by Steve Grant.

TWO short-lived but dramatic Covid shutdowns of Western Australia rammed home the importance of small business to its economy, says small business commissioner David Eaton.

“There’s more and more recognition about the economy, which Covid has emphasised; that small business creates jobs and gives a city its vibrancy,” Mr Eaton said.

Also the CEO of the small business development corporation, Mr Eaton was in Melville after announcing the local council had been chosen to take part in the first official round of a new red tape-busting program.

“It’s not deregulation, but about how we apply the regulations so they are more straight-forward for business and more cosy for the council to apply,” Mr Eaton said of the Small Business Friendly Approvals Program.

He said after conducting a pilot in Stirling and Canning councils, Melville, Rockingham and Wanneroo were chosen for the first round.

“They were selected because they were already on the journey – they were not broken – and this is another element where we can help them.

“Some is about getting more information at the front end so applications are more complete and businesses’ expectations are sound.

“During the pilot we also found some reforms that save money, but also some that involved shifting their resources to match the risk.

“So someone putting up an A-frame sign or a table and chairs on the footpath is not is inherently high-risk as the health aspects.”

Mr Eaton said the reforms could deliver the economy millions every year in savings.

The commissioner said championing a proactive program was a welcome shift from his usual role resolving issues between small business and government.

Melville mayor George Gear said the city had already been working with small businesses on how to improve its online approvals information, and he was keen to see what a deep look within the organisation could unearth.

The Herald’s finance guru Bryan Zemunik said the Morrison government should take note of Mr Eaton’s comments about the importance of small business to local economies and rethink its entire Covid business support strategy.

Mr Zemunik said offering tax cuts might help the big end of town which still had income coming in, but meant nothing to small enterprises which had been forced to close their doors or lost so much trade there’d be no profit.

Former Opposition leader Bill Shorten also criticised the Morrison government’s winding back of JobKeeper and Jobkeeper programs in comments following a controversial speech the day before where he questioned Labor’s ‘no policy approach’.

by STEVE GRANT

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