High hopes Hockey’s a good sport

IN one of several changes to Prime Minister John Howard’s Cabinet, former Minister for Financial Services and Regulation Joe Hockey is to be the new Federal Small Business Minister.

Mr Hockey will have the dual portfolios of small business and tourism under his ministry.

The office of small business will be transferred to the new Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Resources, which will be headed by former Small Business Minister Ian MacFarlane, essentially making him Mr Hockey’s superior.

Mr MacFarlane has been added to the Howard Cabinet.

Warren Entsch will remain as Parliamentary Secretary to the Small Business and Tourism portfolio.

Tony Abbott will keep his portfolio of Employment and Workplace Relations and has also been appointed the Leader of the House and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service.

WA Small Business and Enterprise Association executive director Philip Achurch said he hoped the loss of small business from the senior minister’s portfolio did not mean a downgrading of the importance of small business in the Federal Government’s eyes.

“I also hope the new minister gives more focus to the concerns of small business,” Mr Achurch said.

Council of Small Businesses of Australia chief executive Rob Bastian said he would have liked small business to have been attached to the Treasury department.

“Treasury controls areas such as National Competition Policy, which is a major issue for small business,” Mr Bastian said.

“I think small business has grown to the point where the correct judgements for it are made on economic and not moral grounds.”

However, Mr Bastian said he was pleased with the choice of Small Business Minister.

“I think Mr Hockey will do a good job. And I also think it is a good thing that Mr MacFarlane is the senior minister,” he said.

“I think he worked very hard as Small Business Minister.”

While the small business sector’s reaction to the Cabinet reshuffle is mixed, tourism operators seem pleased with the Government’s approach.

Tourism Council of Australia WA branch president Laurie O’Meara said the reshuffle had created a good result for the industry.

“It’s given further importance to tourism by including it in Mr MacFarlane’s portfolio,” Mr O’Meara said.

“I understand Mr Hockey is seen as a rising star within the Howard ministry and his appointment as Tourism Minister is a good thing for us.

“We wanted tourism to be an appointment within Cabinet and I guess we got half of what we wanted.

“I think the Government’s view is that, in light of the hard times, the industry has had of late, its problems need to be dealt with at a senior level.”

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