Cheyne shoots down Lib push for Small Business Ministerial Advisory Council

Ian Bushnell 26 April 2021 15
Leanne Castley

Opposition business spokesperson Leanne Castley said small business deserves a seat at the table. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

A push by the Canberra Liberals for the ACT Government to set up a Small Business Ministerial Advisory Council to give business more of a say in decision-making has been rebuffed, despite support from the main business lobby in the Territory.

Shadow Minister for Business Leanne Castley had proposed a motion in the Legislative Assembly on Friday (23 April) calling on the government to set up a council comprising small business experts who were small business owners themselves.

Ms Castley said the government had Ministerial Advisory Councils representing veterans, women, the multicultural sector, older Canberrans, youth and the LGBTIQ+ community, but had ignored the small business community.

She said small businesses had been calling for their own MAC so they would have a direct line to government.

“They deserve a seat at the decision-making table,” she said.


READ ALSO: Why can’t small business have its own Ministerial Advisory Council?


But Minister for Business and Better Regulation Tara Cheyne said she was concerned that interests were so wide and varied across the small business community that an advisory council would not capture them all and that many, particularly in the micro-business community, would not have the time to attend meetings.

She said it would cause duplication, be a burden for business, and direct consultation would be the best way to ensure input into government decision-making.

Ms Castley said she was disappointed at the government’s response and staggered to hear Ms Cheyne’s comments.

She called on the minister to spend time with small business owners, the real experts in their field.

Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said the sector needed all the help it could get, and a MAC would enhance the partnership with government.

He said the appointment of a Minister for Business had been a good step towards building a solid partnership between government and business, but more could be done.

“A well-executed forum like the ministerial advisory council could add to that partnership, primarily by providing a diversity of views of business owners and providing a forum where they could actually bring their experience and talk about the barriers they face to their success and issues they face on the ground,” he said.


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Mr Catt said it would also help businesses understand the reasons behind government decisions and policies and ensure a positive relationship between the business community and government.

He said there were 30,000 active businesses in the ACT that provide 62 per cent of the jobs, and the vast majority would employ between one and 20 employees.

“Our economic growth in Canberra and generating more jobs are going to depend on supporting a dynamic small business sector,” Mr Catt said.


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15 Responses to Cheyne shoots down Lib push for Small Business Ministerial Advisory Council
Sabatino Bonelli Sabatino Bonelli 8:48 am 30 Apr 21

Government knows best🤦‍♂️

Sharee Schultz Sharee Schultz 9:51 am 26 Apr 21

Why is Cheyne so against Business owners’ having a say? What could it hurt?

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:41 pm 25 Apr 21

“…..Tara Cheyne said she was concerned that interests were so wide and varied across the small business community that an advisory council would not capture them all….”

And yet corporatism works so well for every other sector and interest grouping etc. in Canberra……

Mike of Canberra Mike of Canberra 7:01 pm 25 Apr 21

Just further to my earlier comment, this a government that not only denies public housing realities but also denies a seat at the table to small business people, the very backbone of our community. The first small inklings of an opposition with good ideas and policies is already exposing the shortcomings of this tired old government.

Mike of Canberra Mike of Canberra 5:02 pm 25 Apr 21

Of course the ACT Government doesn’t want meaningful small business input into ACT Government decision making. Why? Perhaps Ms Cheyne fears hearing things that may not suit her or the broader ACT Government’s mindset. For instance, small business owners may tell her that the ACT is one of the most expensive places in Australia in which to do business. They may point out that, after allowing for all the taxes and charges Canberrans must pay to the ACT Government, they have comparatively little to spend on the products and services offered by Canberra’s many small businesses. They may say that the ACT Government’s longevity has inevitably led to it becoming stale and hubristic, with consequent detrimental effects on policy making in the ACT. What tired old government wants to hear that?

Jason Preston Jason Preston 4:53 pm 25 Apr 21

Don’t have to find out why

These people are anti business

If there’s to be a business group, they’ll oppose it

They prefer to keep the sector divided and easy to push around individually or in small groups

No socialist government wants an organised business group

    Tom Adam Tom Adam 5:57 pm 25 Apr 21

    Jason, which is interesting because you’d think they’d be pro-unionisation to have a Small Business Union to push their agenda onto small business.

    Almost seems the complete opposite of what Left Government would want. (Btw Communism and Socialism depend on unionised workforces that do what the union says - because the government tells the unions what they want.)

    Jason Preston Jason Preston 5:59 pm 25 Apr 21

    Tom Adam well you’d think

    But they like to keep people divided and small fronts everywhere are easier to contain than a big push back

    Tom Adam Tom Adam 6:03 pm 25 Apr 21

    Jason, which is funny because for people who want them to make the hard decisions for them - they do a good job of not listening to what those hard decisions are.

Tom Adam Tom Adam 4:36 pm 25 Apr 21

As the President of the Phillip Business Community we 100% support a Small Business Ministerial Advisory Council for the ACT with the hope that bodies like ours can provide the feedback the ACT Labor Government is failing to hear and help shape policy to benefit Canberra Small Business Owners.

The argument that the industries are too diverse is spurious at best, considering we all have similar needs and interests from government.

Tara Cheyne MLA - we should chat.

David Malcolm David Malcolm 3:46 pm 25 Apr 21

So, basically, the government know more about what the small business sector wants than the small business sector itself. Sounds about right, oh no, I meant typical for this government.

Zakzook Chico Zakzook Chico 3:40 pm 25 Apr 21

This gov never been interested in supporting small businesses. But eager to take money of them...

Vanessa Jones Vanessa Jones 3:17 pm 25 Apr 21

Has Tara Cheyne ever run a business or has she been a govt employee? Interesting....

    David Malcolm David Malcolm 3:49 pm 25 Apr 21

    Vanessa Jones straight from uni into the public service according to Wikipedia.

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 4:29 pm 25 Apr 21

    Vanessa Jones no she hasn’t she’s been a public servant so wouldn’t have a clue

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