Bruce Billson (federal member for Dunkley Business) announced on Tuesday 24 November. That he would be leaving politics following the next election. He made this decision after being demote from the Minister for Small Business. Role in September’s rise of Malcolm Turnbull to the Prime Minister.
Billson’s resignation from politics is disappointing for those who want to see small business policies that work. He was undoubtedly one of Australia’s most passionate Small-Business Ministers. This sector employs nearly half of the Australian workforce and represents 99.7%.
Billson’s loyalty and support for Tony Abbott, the former Prime Minister of Australia, came at a cost. Turnbull reshuffled the cabinet and removed Billson from his front bench. Ministerial position in favor of Kelly O’Dwyer who was both Minister for Small Business as Assistant Treasurer. Turnbull had offered Billson the possibility of a junior portfolio as Minister for Cities. But it wasn’t attractive to him.
Billson made it public by announcing his retirement from Parliament. He noted that he had spent 20 years in Parliament, six of them as Shadow Minister or Minister. earlessly advocates for the small business community, family enterprise, start up and self-employed. He felt, however, that: It is clear that I love my job, but it is impossible for me to do what I love fully.
Australia’s Minister for Small Business Over Time
Bruce Billson was Australia’s 15th Minister For Small Business. Barry Jones was the first to take office during the Hawke Labor Government’s early years in 1988. Jones served the position for two years and three month, during which time his duties were combine with those of Minister Science and Customs.
David Beddall was the next to follow, with a term that lasted almost three years and covered the Prime Ministerial careerss of Paul Keating and Bob Hawke. He had to share the portfolio of small businesses with science, construction and customs. To his credit, Beddall ordered a review of Australia’s small-business sector to identify its problems, opportunities, and challenges. This report was publish in 1990. It is still one of the most important documents in Australia relating to small-business policy and practice.
Chris Schacht was next, and served almost three years until the Keating government collapsed under John Howard’s coalition victory. Five Small Business Ministers were appoint by Howard: Geoff Prosser (March 1996 – July 1997), Peter Reith (1997 – January 2001), Ian Macfarlane (1901 – November 2001), Joe Hockey (1911 – October 2004), and Fran Bailey (October 2004 December 2007). Many of these Ministers had small business portfolios that included consumer affairs, tourism and employment.
Prime Minister Business
In 2007, Kevin Rudd was elect Prime Minister and appoint Craig Emerson Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors, and the Service Economy. Emerson was in office until 2010, when he was replace by Nick Sherry by Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia.
Gillard recognized the importance of having a Minister for Small Business in the cabinet. The turbulent years of Gillard’s government saw the appointment a rapid succession of Ministers: Mark Arbib, December 2011 to March 2012; Brendan O’Connor, March 2012 to February 2013, Chris Bowen (February 2012 to March 2013), Gary Gray (March 2013 to September 2013).
Therefore, the Small Business area is often part of a larger portfolio that ministers have. It can quickly become an afterthought if it doesn’t have its own department or legislative framework.
After Tony Abbott’s election win in September 2013, Billson was elected Minister. He had previously held the small business shadow portfolio. Although his term was short at 2 years and 3 months, he was well-prepare for the job. The policies related to small businesses were among the best-developed of all the policy platforms that the Liberal Party had before the 2013 election.
These policies included proposals to reduce taxes, lower compliance costs, increase small business growth, review competition laws, and extend unfair contract protection for small business owners. Billson was given a seat in Treasury’s inner cabinet, and a policy support group based in Treasury. He set out to implement the blueprint for small businesses.
The 2014 federal budget was widely criticized as being unfair. It did not do much to improve the reputation of Treasurer Joe Hockey. It did contain key initiatives for small businesses. These include the reduction of the corporate tax rate for small business by 1.5% to 28.5%.