SMALL business is feeling ignored by both of the major political parties contesting the February 10 election.The sector believes the Liberal Party will offer it a status quo for small business.It is uncertain whether there will be a small business policy launch or if small business measures will be released as part of some larger industry policy launch.Labor is making some overtures to small business but no firm promises. Its direction statement on small business was branded by many as lacking in any form of direction.Its approach to industrial relations sent shivers through the sector with its plan to make Workplace Agreements align with Federal Award conditions.Combined Small Business Associations of WA president Oliver Moon said he was sick of dealing with either party.He said after years of corresponding and speaking with both Government ministers and departments he was tired of being “fobbed off” with trite answers.“If it wasn’t for the Small Business Development Corporation, small business wouldn’t get much of a look-in in this State,” Mr Moon said.“And yet we receive all the plaudits. We’re called the engine room of the WA economy. We’re told we’re the fastest growing sector in WA and that we employ more people than anyone else.”Mr Moon said he was concerned the Labor Party would abolish workplace agreements, one of the few things he believed the Court Government had done for small business.He is also unsure whether a Labor Government would have a Small Business Minister and whether that Minister would hold a Cabinet post.WA Retailers Association CEO Martin Dempsey said most small business owners felt ignored once they got through the start-up stage.“Being in business for yourself is put up as one of the ways to get ahead but there is really little help for small businesses,” Mr Dempsey said.“If they do well the Government will happily take tax off them and levy a whole range of compliances on them. If they get into trouble they’re on their own.“Government funding doesn’t really filter down to the established businesses. Most of the small business monies flow through to the SBDC and bodies such as the Ministry of Fair Trading.”Mr Dempsey said the Liberal Party was suggesting a status quo while Labor’s small business spokesman Clive Brown was making a number of positive overtures.“The status quo is not going to be well received by small businesses in the medium term,” he said.“And Labor’s prepared to look at making changes because it needs a big swing at the polls.”
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