Federal Election 2019: Meet The Small Business Party

Summary

Website: https://thesmallbusinessparty.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesbparty/
Slogans:
Let’s save small business together.
Themes: Small business is the heart of Australia, and is poorly treated by government.  We need to fight for small business owners and their families.
Electorate:
Upper House: NSW, VIC
Preferences: The Small Business Family is preferencing # Sustainable Australia, the Australian Conservatives and the Coalition in their top six in both NSW and Victoria. In NSW, they add the Liberal Democrats and the Christian Democrats, and in Victoria, they have Hinch’s Justice Party first, and the Democratic Labour Party in sixth place.

So essentially, conservative religious parties and libertarian parties.

Policies & Commentary

OK!  Easter is over, which means it’s time for me to get back  to the political commentaries before we get the NBN on Thursday and lose the internet for the next three weeks (I hope, so very much, that I’m exaggerating about this, but I have to say, nothing I have heard about the process of NBN installation fills me with optimism…).

I’m still super tired, so I’m going to start off with the Small Business Party, a single-issue party based in Sydney that wants to champion small businesses.  It’s very NSW-centric, and I suspect will not be running candidates elsewhere, so this is likely to be one of my shorter posts.  You are probably as relieved as I am by this statement.

The first thing you need to know about this party is that its pages all come with YouTube videos that autoplay the first time you open them.  And then they repeat!  Endlessly! I mention this up-front, because it was a nasty shock when I opened several pages at once, preparing to read them – you may want to switch off the sound on your computer before you start visiting the website.  In their defence, the videos I’ve watched are short, well-produced and summarise their policies well.  Also, I’m all for accessibility, and I think these videos would be great for someone with a learning disability or visual impairment (well, except that you miss the cute cartoons), but the autoplay thing makes my hair stand on end.  Website owners, please don’t do this!  We don’t all want to be bombarded the moment we open a web page!

The SBP’s premise is that running a small business is more than just a job, that small businesses are ‘families… local communities, and… the heart and soul of this great Australian nation’, and that they are being treated unfairly by governments.

Small businesses need a champion now more than ever. Consistently Governments’ make decisions which destroy small businesses, hurt our families, and impact our local communities.

We are here to fight for these businesses and their families and ensure that progress doesn’t come at their expense.

The SBP is particularly worried about unaffordable housing and energy, excessive taxation and red tape.  Their about page contains some useful stats = there are over 2 million small businesses in Australia, and small businesses employ almost 50% of the workforce.  I would very much like to know how they are defining small business for this purpose, incidentally – I know the government defines businesses with fewer than 100 employees as small businesses for some purposes, for example, whereas I suspect what the general public envisages is something rather smaller (a family business, perhaps).

The SBP has seven policies.  The first two are about taxes – they want to get rid of land tax, which they feel is unfair because it takes no account of changes in the property market, and payroll tax, which they feel punishes small businesses for employing staff.

There is a strong note of resentment in the land tax video:

The NSW looooves to take money from the same people all the time – our small businesses and our families.  We already have enough taxes.

And in the payroll tax policy we have:

Why does small business always pay multiple times in NSW – WE carry an unfair burden.

The next policy is called ‘Cut Energy Prices’, which calls for less waste and smarter technologies and smarter cities. It’s hard to know what ‘smarter technologies’ means, because they don’t seem to be huge believers in climate change:

Governments in Australia are more concerned with appeasing either the climate change believers or the sceptics than to bother doing anything about our SKYROCKETING energy prices.

Again, we have the chorus of needing to protect our small businesses and our families and our communities – which are envisaged, I think, as largely one and the same thing.

You will also be unsurprised to hear that

Small businesses in Australia SUFFER through OUTRAGEOUS amounts of red-tape in any given week.

They feel that larger corporations actually push for compliance changes in order to sabotage smaller businesses, which is an interesting theory.

One thing that stands out to me, reading these first four policies, is a sense that many small businesses are currently standing at the very edge of viability – there is a real feeling of existential anxiety which permeates the way these issues are discussed, leaving no room for nuance.  Land tax *does* increase the cost of doing business… but it also tends to be a rather less regressive tax than some other options.  Red tape *is* annoying and time consuming and often excessive… but preserving the rights of employees to be treated equitably at work and to work in a safe environment is vital, and can’t be ignored either.  There needs to be some balance.  I don’t think small businesses are out to exploit their employees, but I do think that someone who is struggling to break even with their business might not have the clearest view of which bits of red tape really do reflect necessity, and which do not.

Another policy area is to cut stamp duty, which they think is helping drive housing unaffordability.  They want to abolish stamp duty entirely for retirees who are downsizing, and reduce it for everyone else.  This is actually one of their more nuanced policies, and I appreciate that they are aware that not everyone will be able to transition from renting to owning immediately, and that there will always be a need for affordable rental options – though it’s also interesting that their assumption is that everyone will own eventually, and that this is a desirable thing (as opposed, say, to an assumption that most people will rent, and that we need to reform our rental laws to make them work for long-term tenants as they do in many European countries).  I’m not necessarily arguing with this assumption, by the way, but it’s interesting that this is still the baseline we are coming from.

The Small Business Party wants to fix education.  Interestingly, they mostly want to do this by getting rid of HSC exams, which they feel are unnecessarily stressful and place a mental health burden on children, and replacing them with ongoing assessment.  This is really their only defined policy on the subject, which is fairly unusual.  No mention is made of the content of education that should be provided, but they want to upskill teachers and reward the ones with a passion for their job, rather than just throwing money at schools and reducing classroom sizes.

Finally, the Small Business Party wants free Out of School Hours Care (which for some reason they have decided to abbreviate to ‘OOSH’, and pronounce ‘Oosh’) for all working parents.

And that’s about it. I suspect I won’t be in a position to vote for this lot.  If I did… well, I think they would wind up about halfway down my ballot.  I mean, I don’t dislike them, which puts them well ahead of the game so far, but they really are single issue, to a degree that I find a little selfish, or perhaps it’s fairer to say short-sighted.

And now I’m going to go have a nap, because my tiredness has caught up with me. I apologise if I’ve been typing really weird stuff (I start spelling things in Scrabble Tile Value Order and swapping homonyms when I’m too tired.  I thought I was feeling normal when I started writing this post, but I think I was wrong.).

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

I searched in vain for a Eurovision song featuring red tape (apparently, I had already used the only one there was for Tim Storer’s Independent SA Party).  And it must be admitted, ‘Small Business’ is not a topic that instantly brings to mind things Eurovisual.

However, after some very random investigations, I did find this delightfully 80s piece from 1991 by Sweden, which I feel is amusingly appropriate for the SBP – admittedly, my knowledge of the Eurovision oeuvre is not encyclopaedic, but I can’t recall a lot of backing dancers in business suits and ties.

2 thoughts on “Federal Election 2019: Meet The Small Business Party

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