Illustration: Rocco Fazzari
TONY ABBOTT is ramping up the Coalition's pitch to small business, saying he will aim to double the sector's growth rate by scrapping key government policies.
In his latest attempt to woo small business owners, the Opposition Leader said on Thursday a Coalition government would aim to have the number of small businesses expand by 30,000 each year, a growth rate of about 1.5 per cent.
Mr Abbott said this was twice as fast as the growth rate under Labor and it could be achieved by changes including abolishing the carbon tax, slashing red tape and undertaking a sweeping review of competition laws.
''There is no reason why we should not be able to achieve an annual growth rate in the numbers of small businesses of around 1.5 per cent,'' Mr Abbott said. ''This is what the Howard government delivered.''
A spokeswoman for the Small Business Minister, Brendan O'Connor, criticised Mr Abbott's credentials on small business, pointing to Coalition policy to scrap the instant asset write-off, funded by the carbon price.
A Coalition government would also axe a policy that allows loss-making small businesses to receive a refund from taxes paid in the previous year.
Mr Abbott accused the government of stifling small businesses with higher electricity costs and a growing compliance burden.
''I want to once again see small business providing more than half of the jobs in the private sector, since that is where people get a start in life, entrepreneurship is fostered and innovation happens," he said.
Mr Abbott has promised to save the economy $1 billion a year through a program to cut back on unnecessary regulations - a key complaint in the business community.
The latest comments on small business come as many in the sector battle against weak economic conditions, including sluggish growth in consumer spending and the high Australian dollar.
The number of companies that failed in the September quarter was 10 per cent higher than a year earlier, according to figures published last week by the corporate regulator.
The chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Anderson, said Mr Abbott's goal was ''plausible in the medium term'', provided the economy did not slow dramatically.