Positive ... ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Chris Peters said the group would provide huge benefit to businesses. Photo: Stuart Walmsley
The Canberra business community is enthusiastically embracing a new lobby group set up at Parliament House to put the concerns of small business directly to ministers.
Parliamentary Friends for Small Business was convened by Labor's Gai Brodtmann, the Member for Canberra, and Scott Buchholz, the Coalition Member for Wright in Queensland. In a rare display of bipartisanship, it brings together MPs from both sides of politics with experience in small business.
A large group of MPs attended the launch of the group at Parliament House, where they put aside their differences to offer a new avenue for micro and small businesses to air their complaints.
Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann had the best excuse for a flight upgrade.
The chief executive of the ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chris Peters, said the parliamentary group would provide huge benefits to small business operators in the ACT.
''It provides yet another opportunity to influence federal politicians,'' he said on Wednesday.
''Business is feeling under threat by several things that are happening in government … that have negative impacts on business. So we welcome every additional opportunity to try to show to federal politicians what impact on business their decisions make, and how they might make them differently to achieve the policy outcomes they are looking for without adverse effect on business.''
Mr Peters said the compliance obligations impose huge costs on micro and small businesses.
''The biggest problem affecting the sector is government red tape, with recent surveys showing some operators have to spend half a day a week on it,'' he said.
''Also, the recent mini budget brought forward some tax payments.
''Politicians think, like government, that whether you pay it now or in three months, it's the same amount of money, so there's no additional cost on government. What they don't understand is that in small business, cash flow is king. So paying it monthly instead of three monthly is a significant problem for small business.''
Ms Brodtmann said, as a former micro business operator, she understood the challenges facing the sector, particularly in Canberra.
''Our group will getting together with micro and small businesses to hear about their stories of success and innovation and also the potential challenges they face, and to discuss in a bipartisan way what we can do about addressing that,'' she said.
''For Canberra's micro and small businesses, the priority is access to government procurement.
''My objective is ensuring the tendering and procurement processes are as open to as many businesses as possible.
''There are over 2 million small businesses in Australia and they employ almost 5 million Australians, and small business contributes more than 20 per cent of Australia's GDP.''