Shopping online is good?

Brent Fleeton

Brent Fleeton has strong views about online shopping. Gerry Harvey might not agree!

Overnight the Australian Retailers
Association (ARA) announced their response to the Low Value Parcel Processing
Taskforce final report. Now, it is to be expected that protectionism is the
ruling economic policy of the ARA, but their call for Australian consumers to
be taxed for purchasing goods online that will see a parcel arrive from
overseas shows how out of touch this lobby group is with everyday Australians.
I must admit I am unlike many of the good burghers at the ARA, as I am biased
towards consumer freedom in a global economy.

Like many friends and colleagues, I
shop online for many goods for one reason – the power of my dollar gets a
better quality product for a lower price online than if I was to shop in
Australia. As an example I unashamedly have expertise in, buying a suit from an
Australian retailer doesn’t make economic sense because the prices are lower
and the quality is better if you visit the online shopping sites of a host of
British or American tailors. To tax my purchase and use the reason that “… the additional state revenue will translate to
community benefit – police, teachers and nurses.” is simply laughable.

ARA goes on to say that “it also means putting Australian retailers and
Australian online retailers on an equal GST footing with the rest of the global
retail market to create jobs, pay taxes and contribute to local wealth
creation.” Why is the predisposition of the ARA to bring equality of
competition by raising taxes? Why isn’t the aim to lower taxes across the
board? Every Australian should be terrified of the most concerning trend today
– Governments have no choice but to tax and spend. If the ARA had any ingenuity
or economic foresight, they’d be looking at ways of lobbying government to
achieve their aims of equal competition but by lowering tax – not raising it,
by providing greater economic freedom for consumers – not trying to force
Australians to buy inferior goods and services just because it’s from Australia
and allowing Australians to shop in a global market unfettered by government
which in turn forces Australian retailers to be competitive in the 21st
century economy.

It’s time the ARA caught up with
modern consumer trends and advocated for policies which ensured their members
aren’t relying on legislation to stay alive, but by staying alive because they
provide quality goods and services at competitive prices. This is the only way
to keep up with their international competition.

We are but a small national economy
playing in a global marketplace, it’s time we stopped pretending protectionism

The Australian Retailers Association, advocating
that you pay more since 1903.

Brent Fleeton is the President of the Murdoch University Liberal Club.

Labor Just Doesn’t Get Small Business

Andys RantI see former union hack official Brendan O'Connor is the newly appointed 4th Minister for Small Business.

How foolish of me to think Gillard would appoint someone who had started or managed their own small business and can empathise with small business entrepreneurs.

Finally under Labor, the Minister for Small Business will be a Cabinet member. Senator Mark Arbib was the last Minister for Small Business.

Consider these small business statistics:

(For statistical purposes, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines a small business as an actively trading business with 0–19 employees.)

  • There were 2,051,085 actively trading businesses in Australia as at June 2009. Around 96 per cent were small businesses (1,961,337), 4 per cent were medium-sized businesses and less than 1 per cent were large businesses.
  • Small businesses provided employment for almost half of total industry employment in 2009–10, which equates to almost 4.8 million people 1.
  • Small businesses contributed around $294 billion or 35 per cent of industry value added in 2009–10.
  • Small businesses account for 85.7 per cent of employment in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, compared with 47.6 per cent in the services sector, 30.2 per cent in the manufacturing sector and 13.9 per cent in the mining sector.
  • As at December 2008, almost 50 per cent of business owners estimated working more than 40 hours in a typical working week. 22 per cent of business owners estimated working 41 to 50 hours, 18 per cent estimated working 51 to 70 hours, and 6 per cent estimated working over 70 hours. Of those owners (4 per cent of business owners) estimating they worked less than 40 hours per week, 17 per cent estimated working 31 to 40 hours, 17 per cent estimated working 21 to 30 hours, 11 per cent estimated working 11 to 20 hours and 8 per cent estimated working 0 to 10 hours.

At least Tony Abbott and the coalition rightly acknowledge the important role small business plays.



Key Small Business Facts and Statistics can be found here.

1 ABS Cat. No. 8155.0.

Update: Labor has finally  just made the small-business portfolio a Cabinet post.

The ALP are yet to update their Ministers page.

My post has now been corrected to relfect the change.


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Carbon tax will butcher small business: Liberal MP Craig Kelly

LIVERPOOL small business owners will be hit hard by the Federal Government’s carbon tax policy, the Liberal Party claims.

Hughes Federal Liberal MP Craig Kelly warned the tax could spell the end for small businesses as he visited shop owners on Monday.

Mr Kelly said Hafda’s Butchery in Liverpool would face a $5000 annual increase in its electricity bill as a result of the tax. “That’s one business out of hundreds in Liverpool that will carry the burden of this carbon tax,” he said.

The butchery’s owner Tarek Hafda said his power bills had more than doubled in the past few years.

“We’re paying $1600 a month now. We’ve had to raise the price of our meat to help cover the cost,” Mr Hafda said.

He said shoppers were also struggling with the electricity price hike and spending less in store.

“People are tight, no one spends like before,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the tax would be felt through all levels of business.

“From the farm gate to the shop door, the impact will be devastating. The cost of the abattoir, transport and refrigeration will all increase.

“This will lead to higher prices for the consumer,” he said. “A T-bone steak shouldn’t be a luxury in this country but under a Labor Government it’s heading that way.”

Via the Liverpool Leader

Andy Semple

Speak without fear and question with boldness.

The Natural Party of Small Business

Ben-Scott Small business is ‘naturally’ forgotten by the Labor Party, writes Benjamin Scott.

“The natural party of opposition” and “The natural party of government”. Both are such bold statements, and whilst I sincerely hope the Australian Labor Party represents the former and The Liberal-National parties the latter, I must admit to not yet finding extensive or credible evidence for either.  Academics and commentators have written widely on the concept with numerous attempts to achieve validation using all sorts of electoral statistics in the history of Australian Federation. However, the idea of a ‘natural party of government’ remains elusive. Less so, is the concept of “natural constituencies” which raise many questions about political representation.

The Labor Party looks to highly unionised workforces as their natural constituency. Although, this has actually become increasingly debatable due to the effects of recent employment and environmental proposals that affect both the job prospects and quality of life of this constituency. In a paradoxical twist which commentators have long debated, it is apparent that activist and union movements contribute largely to the concept of the Labor Party being ‘the natural party of opposition’. It is largely a party of radical activism built to oppose. Some Labor operatives will admit in quiet moments that the party’s ignorant unwillingness to shift on its rigid IR legislation means it may one day finally claim the mantle as ‘the natural party of opposition’. 

Conversely, the Liberal-National parties have looked to the small business sector as a natural constituency. There are those who will argue that it is a fundamental philosophical basis that makes an individual ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ and it is these individuals who collectively form this natural constituency. I remind readers that there is an important section of Australian voters who actually do not vote along a hard philosophical line. I would also remind readers of that profound speech from Sir Robert Menzies citing the “forgotten people”, which continues to perfectly encapsulate Australia’s small business sector today. A case in point is the fact that Liberal-National politicians will readily acknowledge aspects of its past IR policies as ‘going too far’. Unlike Labor’s ignorance, inflexibility and stupidity on the serious issue of IR reform, this highlights the Liberal-National parties’ natural capacity to appeal to small business. Make no mistake, I feel it important as ever to reinvigorate politics through ideology and philosophy as that is truly the road to credible policy and better government. Politicians should never disregard this vital foundation. However, when we discuss representation we have moved a step beyond the realm of ideology and philosophy to a more mechanistic democratic concept.

If we look at the purely statistical snapshot of small business in Australia, leaving out its considerable extenuating social benefits, we see a compelling constituency:

• Approximately 1.93 million active small businesses in Australia.

• Small businesses make up 96 per cent of all businesses.

• Small businesses employing 3.8 million people, accounting for around 46 per cent of total private sector employment.

• More than 17,000 small businesses are exporting and just last year shipped goods estimated to be around $1.2 billion.

A compelling picture, even if we accept the view that small business contributes approximately 35 per cent of Australia’s total GDP, without considering what that percentage would be if we reduced an overspending and bloated government sector from the equation.  Even if we accept all these statistics, what we continue to see from the ALP’s philosophical and policy base is a systematic attack on an Australian’s right to go into business. Is it any wonder that small business detests the Labor Party’s obsession with centralisation and increased taxation as much as an Australian Liberal or Conservative should.

My colleague Mitch Redford, recently elucidated in his considered article, “A man in a suit with a grin, an army of bureaucrats and a wad of your cash” that the concept of taxation has morphed dramatically since inception. Ironically, whilst watching a news report on the resurgence of the ‘Tea Party’ libertarians and conservatives in the Unites States, I was reminded of one of the more interesting quotes I’ve discovered regarding the issue: “no taxation without representation”. Irrespective of your view regarding the movement or the statement, the presence of gigantic and complicated taxation systems have combined with bloated bureaucracies to muffle political representation. The actual quality in the political representation side of this equation is also, in itself, highly debatable. As are the numerous other effects of large and stifling bureaucratic entities that are killing small business in Australia. I am certain there is a potential PhD thesis in this. Possibly even a Rudd-like “polly-waffle” quarterly essay that investigates the historic parallels with the Boston Tea Party, the Thirteen Colonies and their fight for Independence pontificating on why the Labor Party are inherently against independence and simply ‘evil’. I will resist the temptation to do so.

Take an obvious example in the ETS, a monolith of a tax system not ever before seen; with previous estimates showing the small business community staring down the barrel of a minimum $1000 slug per household. Erased from the real economy and lost to Government coffers forever. An all-out assault on small business in Australia. Loaded in the second barrel and ready to fire on the small business constituency of Australia is rigid IR legislation. This will see vulnerable employees and casual workers, such as students, shown the door. Not for the fault of the struggling cafe or fruit shop owner, but for a Labor Party that perceive such people as ‘evil capitalists’ and a fundamentally flawed IR system that will cripple small businesses across the country. This constituency does not take lightly to attacks. Indeed, this natural constituency of the Liberal-National parties is once again looking for flexibility in the debate. 

As similar cries to “no taxation without representation” become increasingly muffled and distant even more convoluted taxation schemes, such as the ETS, rear their ugly head with the associated bureaucratic bloating. Or as Senator Barnaby Joyce refers to, the “battalions of bureaucratic tin gods on the quest for Australia to cool the planet”. It would serve the Liberal-National parties well to listen intently to the distant calls of an infamous ‘silent majority’ that primarily consists of small business, as they did with the ETS. The liberal and conservative side of Australian politics must never forget there will always be natural constituencies for political parties. More importantly it must recognise, in every possible way, that it has the most formidable natural constituency for a political party and that is the small business sector. Who knows, this may be the beginning in establishing evidence for “the natural party of government”. But that might be going too far.

Benjamin Scott is the Inaugural Vice President of the Young LNP in Queensland, was an LNP campaign strategist in the last election and a former staffer to politicians at all levels of government. He now works as a Government Relations and Communications Manager in the private sector.