PM Scott Morrison has to champion business owners

Read the latest from Mark Bouris's column in the Sunday Telegraph.

03 September 2018

Mark Bouris's column was first published by the Daily Telegraph and is published here with permission.

Scott Morrison is a Prime Minister who I reckon understands business owners, how hard they work and how important they are.

During the federal budget this year I interviewed Scott Morrison for my podcast The Mentor with Mark Bouris and it had more than one million downloads — more than anyone else. He didn’t duck questions and he didn’t talk BS, and the listeners loved it.

Morrison comes from Bronte and lives in the Sutherland Shire, where hard work and having a go are part of the culture.

Scott Morrison is a straight talker: I know what I’m talking about because I grew up in Punchbowl, and straight talk is the only thing that works in a place like that.

So we have a genuine bloke in The Lodge. Now Morrison has to champion business owners — Australia’s future might depend on it.

To be on the side of small business, Morrison needs to protect their tax reductions, address regulation, launch a national policy for energy and water and have a proper look at business banking. I’m not talking about banks giving away money — I’m talking about transparency and accountability, like every other business.

This is do-able. Morrison has been the Treasurer for three years. He doesn’t come in cold, he understands what can be done, he knows the national accounts and he understands vested interests.

This could be a fresh start between Canberra and business owners. And it’s about time: 97 per cent of Australian businesses are SMEs, and they employ just under 70 per cent of the workforce. So most readers either own one or work for one.

Business owners are the future. As big business replaces thousands of people with technology, guess where the new jobs will come from? Business owners, entrepreneurs, start-ups and contractors — this is not a time to choke them with red tape and ruin them with taxes.

As leader, Morrison needs to set the tone. He has appointed Michaelia Cash as Minister for Small Business who speaks her mind and has experience in jobs and innovation.

Having appointed an energetic Minister, Morrison can tell the bureaucrats to drop the “small business is the enemy” attitude. Some of the revelations about government pursuit of small business are disgraceful. Canberra is also overdue for a regulation needs test: what’s wrong with asking: “Is this new rule really needed?”

Morrison can address basic business costs. Electricity is a key cost for business — yet no one in Canberra noticed the price of it had doubled in the past decade?!

And Morrison can use his position to stop the war on farmers. You need water for agriculture. Agriculture feeds us. It’s that simple.

Finally, let’s get honest: the Liberal party was set up for hard-working people who put their money on the line to build a business. They drive the economy and they used to have a political party that cared about them. How much has that changed? Look at the proposal to charge businesses for ABNs.

Business owners have to remind the Prime Minister: business owners are not the enemy — they are you, they are us and they are the future.