09/11/2004 - 21:00

Referendum brings political trifecta

09/11/2004 - 21:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

This week Geoff Gallop has effectively made the political trifecta, calling for a referendum on retail trading hours to remove the last of the three big issues threatening his government’s re-election.

This week Geoff Gallop has effectively made the political trifecta, calling for a referendum on retail trading hours to remove the last of the three big issues threatening his government’s re-election.

Two week’s ago, WA Labor announced a series of tax cuts to cauterise the voter haemorrhage over the rising tide of duties and levies that had been recognised for what it was – an unnecessary money grab.

This follows the scurrying about for the past six months to patch up the State’s power system – adding piecemeal bits of generation, stumping up tax relief to make the pipeline attractive and, lastly, buying off the miners in Collie.

It’s all canny political stuff if you want to win an election, though you’d think all these issues could have been solved through the normal political process during the past four years.

The retail trading debate is one of the most enduring of the recent past. It has occupied the headlines for the better part of two years.

Clearly a referendum is simply a way of getting the decision the Government wants without having to make it itself.

Big business has been pushing for deregulation and now it can apply its clout where it operates best, lobbying in the halls of power to get parliament to agree to the referendum, and spending big on advertising to convince the populace of the benefits.

Then it’s up to the people, and Labor can’t be directly blamed by small business for a decision that will ultimately hand over about 20 per cent of the market to a handful of major national players.

With a referendum, the considerable small business voting block will be focused on convincing the punters to oppose deregulation specifically, rather than voting against Labor per se.

It may also shift the attention of rising niche parties like Family First which may prefer Sunday trading to be kept to a minimum.

Smart move, I suppose.

While I prefer governments to make decisions (that is why we elect them) I am not opposed to the concept of a referendum.

My guess is that if a referendum goes ahead retail trading hours will be deregulated, which will go against the usual lore of referenda – that they tend to fail if they don’t have bi-partisan support.

Growing pains

AS part of the WA Business News 40under40 program we decided it was time to survey the 120 past winners and find out about their business life.

We asked a variety of things but a key question we had in mind was to find out the biggest issue or challenge facing their business recently.

From the responses we received from our email questionnaire we were astounded to see one issue arise time and time again – managing growth.

While it should not be surprising that such a group of leading business people should have growth, it was, nevertheless, fascinating to see so many cite it as the single biggest issue they had to deal with.

The issue also highlights the strength of the economy.

Growth can be as a big a headache as anything because it impacts on cash flow and can lead to bad decisions as business people try to harness that demand.

To keep up with the pace they often employ the wrong people or sacrifice quality in a bid to get the job done.

That can undo all the hard work done in establishing a reputation.

While it is always hard to pass up sales (especially if a hungry competitor is waiting in the wings) history shows that being overstretched is just another form of bad management.

Hopefully our 40under40 winners have that in mind. One might guess they do, given it’s the issue they raise as the most challenging for them to confront at the moment.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options