44% of the country’s GDP and employ(s) half the nation’s private-sector workforce
It is not unreasonable to assume that, before CovCrisis2020, it would have been a similar number in Australia. Many, if not most of these small businesses are backed up by the savings (ie homes) of the small business owners. They are not, in the Bill Shorten vernacular, fat cats or from the big end of town.
They are the couriers, food hall franchisees, news agents, small manufacturers, bottle shop owners, bakers and the such. They employ a few people here and there, even though they are financial penalised relative to their larger competitors for not having the scale to have an enterprise agreement.
They aren’t members of the Business Council of Australia. They don’t get Order of Australia pins. They don’t get seats on the National Covid Coordination Commission. They can’t bid for government contracts because they don’t have the scale or resources to meet even bid requirements. They aren’t able to hire the ex-pollie/staffer run lobby shops to advocate their case. They aren’t able to pick up the phone and get a direct line to the Premier or Prime Minister or Department heads. They don’t go to BLM protests because they don’t have the time between running their business, filling in BAS forms and seeing their families.
When the ATO or ASIC comes a knocking, even if they have done nothing wrong, they tend to capitulate because they don’t have the resources or time to fight.
When they are forceably shut down due to administrative error, malfeasance or reckless disregard, they have no recourse. There is no compensation fund available. And if there was compensation it would be the equivalent of moving coins from one pocket to another because the compensation fund would come from the taxes they pay.
These are the quiet Australians for whom no one seems to be speaking for.
If they are wiped out, so are their savings, their homes, their livelihoods. They have no fall back or come back mechanism. These aren’t public servants who have no skin in the game. They can’t go to the bank and they can’t go to the capital markets to raise equity. They are much like Australian schools, Gonski.
These are the businesses that also pay the taxes to pay for Australia’s 2 million plus and increasing public servants, the ABC and Australia’s welfare state.
Then there is also the impact on the banking system, its shareholders and bond holders if there is a wave of defaults.
And whilst our governments deflect responsibility for poor management and continue to fiddle with slogans, these engines of Australian enterprise suffocate.
Congratulations Australian government.