Carbon Tax – Small Business Still Has a Voice


As of 8 November 2011 Australia has carbon tax legislation with the tax due to come into effect mid-2012 with a starting price of $23/tonne. This article is not going to be on whether it’s a good or bad thing – and I have my own opinion on how effective I think it will be.

But we can be sure that stories will abound now about how small business will suffer, the increased costs and administrative burdens that will be placed on them as a result, and it will prevent expansion – or worst case scenario, continuance.

No, this article is about reminding small business that they have a voice – they just have to learn to use it … and use it effectively.

Small business was described by the Treasurer and Senator Nick Sherry at the recent National Small Business Summit as “the engine room of the economy” and “the backbone of Australia”. If that’s true then you’d think they would be doing all in their power to protect the backbone and the engine.

It is estimated that Australian small- to medium-sized businesses employ 56-75% of the total workforce. That’s a big voice. But there’s no point shutting the gate once the bull’s bolted. The time for small business to speak up is when legislation is being drafted – and lord knows we’ve heard about this legislation for a while now.

Small business owners are often so busy working in their businesses that they feel they don’t have the time to lobby. But this is where membership of industry organisations can assist. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start but is just the beginning.

There are two organisations that exist in Australia right now that have an extremely powerful voice in Canberra: Independent Contractors Australia and the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia. I work with the Executive Director of COSBOA and can promise you he has the ear of the people who count in Canberra – and the organisation works hard on behalf of small business to ensure we are heard when it comes to policy making.

Readers will know I’m on the Board of ICA and the primary purpose of this organisation is to lobby government and protect the interests of sole operators, independent contractors and micro businesses. Membership of ICA is very reasonable with full membership just $110pa.  You can find further details at the ICA site here.

COSBOA has a number of membership options. Organisational members have full voting rights and are state and national bodies whose membership is made up of small businesses. Small Business Membership is open to companies, sole traders, partnerships or independent contractors but there are no voting rights. Finally the Small Business Supporter category is open to NFPs, educational institutions,  and government. More information on benefits of membership and the categories can be found at the COSBOA site together with current activities of the organisation.

I would strongly encourage all small business owners to look at joining one of these organisations, participating in their discussions and keeping themselves informed about what’s happening in government that’s likely to affect you.

©Lyn Prowse-Bishop,

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