By Zilla Efrat

There’s a clear need for business relief measures from the government but if they are not coupled with a focus on better regulation and productive policy, they will be in vain. 

That’s the view of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA) CEO Luke Achterstraat. 

His comments follow the launch of a free online learning resource by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) aimed at helping growing businesses with their taxes, superannuation and navigating cash flow challenges for future expansion. 

Called Strengthen Your Small Business, it includes more than 20 short courses covering a range of topics as well as the mistakes the ATO sees businesses commonly make. 

It enables companies to create a learning pathway that is right for their business depending on lifecycle stage, structure and industry. They can choose what they want to learn and do it at their own pace. 

A helping hand from government

To coincide with the learning resource’s launch, Treasury has reminded businesses that this was just one way in which the government was helping them. 

It said other measures include trialing an independent review for small businesses in dispute with the ATO, expanding access to free advice through the tax clinic program and allowing longer to amend tax returns. 

In addition to these were targeted energy bill relief of up to $650 for around one million businesses and the $392.4 million Industry Growth Program which helps businesses innovate, commercialise and grow. 

Also on offer was the Small Business Energy Incentive, which provides an additional 20% tax deduction on spending supporting efficient use of energy, and over $60 million in government funding to help businesses improve their cyber security and digital capabilities. 

Business owners can also make use of free support for their mental health and the $20,000 instant asset writeoff. 

Time to end poor regulation

But as helpful as these are, both COSBOA’s Achterstraat and NSW Small Business Commissioner Chris Lamont agree that setting better regulation would go a long way in improving the lot of businesses. 

In a recent speech to COSBOA’s National Small Business Summit, Lamont said: “A recurring theme I consistently hear from small businesses is their concerns with the cumulative impact and complexity of constantly changing rules and requirements.  

“The accumulation of new red tape… is causing too many businesses to either stagnate or worse, exit.”  

Lamont added that new regulations should be informed by independent business impact statements.  

“These statements are aimed at ensuring new regulations are developed with consideration of the needs, limitations and importantly, the contributions of small business,” he said.  

“The aim is to reduce compliance costs for both business and governments.” 

Lamont’s comments come at a time when various surveys find that many businesses are being bogged down by redundant or substandard regulation.  

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