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Labor vs Liberal: Who to vote for if you’re a small business owner

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, and opposition leader Bill Shorten shake hands before the Sky News/Courier Mail People's Forum in Brisbane, May 3, 2019. Scandals surrounding candidates have become distractions for Morrison and Shorten this week as they attempt to focus voters on policies ahead of the May 18 election. (Gary Ramage/Pool via AP)
Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten. Source: AAP

Yahoo Finance will have the election covered this Saturday. Stay tuned to the website and your inbox for our coverage.

Tax relief, unfair contracts, competition and access to finance are some of the issues facing small businesses that both Liberal and Labor have promised to act on in the campaign leading up to the 2019 Federal Election.

But the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA) reported that, as at 2 May, 35 per cent of small business owners hadn’t yet decided who they were going to vote for, and given small business owners make up 14 per cent of total voters, the parties will have to lobby hard in marginal electorates.

Here’s a list of the top 20 marginal electorates and the percentage of small businesses within those electorates:

Top 20 marginal electorates and the percentage of small businesses within those electorates. Source: COSBOA
Top 20 marginal electorates and the percentage of small businesses within those electorates. Source: COSBOA

Here’s everything you need to know to decide who you will vote for at the polls on Saturday.

If there’s a Labor Party win:

If the Labor Party wins on Saturday, Bill Shorten has promised to cut taxes down to 25 per cent (from 30 per cent) for small and medium businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million a year by 2021 to 2022.

As well, Labor’s promised to legislate to establish a new position of Second Commissioner (Appeals) within the Australian Tax Office, to ensure small business disputes are heard.

Shorten’s also for anti-competitive behaviour, which means should small businesses find themselves in court, they’ll be able to request a ‘no adverse cost order’ preventing large legal fees of the defendant being transferred to the small business, at an early stage of the case.

Unfair contracts were also topical this election, and the Labor Government promised to make unfair contract terms illegal and punishable by fines of up to $10 million. They’ll also expand the definition of small businesses eligible for protection from such contract terms.

Under Shorten’s Government, selected peak consumer groups would be able to make “super-complaints” about consumer rip-offs to the ACCC.

Labor also intends to crack down on dodgy directors engaging in “phoenixing” (the deliberate burning of companies in an attempt to avoid their obligations to employees, government, subcontractors and small businesses).

Small businesses that invest in Australia could benefit from another tax relief in the form of a 20 per cent reduction on any new eligible asset worth over $20,000 if the Labor party won. Assets will include trucks and utes, new machinery and equipment, office or shop furniture and fittings, and patents or copyright.

The Labor Government has also promised to support increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $25,000 to $30,000.

They also intend to establish a new $1 billion Australian Manufacturing Future Fund to drive innovation and help Aussie manufacturers grow their businesses and create new jobs.

If there’s a Liberal Party win:

The Liberal Party’s Scott Morrison has promised to cut taxes down to 27.5 per cent for small and medium businesses turning over less than $50 million per year, and they intend to further reduce this to 25 per cent (but have not specified when this will happen).

For unincorporated businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million, they’ll increase the current eight per cent tax discount ($1,000) to 16 per cent.

The Liberals have also promised to increase the instant asset write-off to $30,000, and will extend it until 30 June 2020.

They’ve promised to help cash flow by forcing the Government to pay its bills within 20 days for contracts up to $1 million, and large businesses seeking government contracts will be required to do the same.

Morrison also has plans to give small business owners better access to finance with a $2 billion Australian Business Securitisation Fund.

They’ll commit $100 million in funding to establish an Australian Business Growth Fund, and plan to partner with financial institutions to provide equity funding to small businesses, with aims for it to reach $1 billion.

The Liberals are also keen to change competition laws to stop big businesses abusing market power, introduce unfair contract legislation, make dispute resolution through the new Australian Financial Complaints Authority more efficient and take action against illegal phoenixing.

A Morrison Government will also see small businesses gain access to export opportunities by building on their already-established trade agreements.

Small businesses will have an opportunity to take on more apprentices in areas of skills shortages with the Liberals’ $525 million Delivering Skills for today and Tomorrow package, which intends to strengthen the Vocational Education and Training system.

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