Andrew Conway FIPA FFA
Making small business count
Over 12 months ago, the IPA redefined its purpose for being as improving the quality of life of small business. Understanding the importance of small business to our economy and in fact, global economies, is one of the key drivers behind out intent.
After more than 12 months of research and policy work through the IPA Deakin SME Research Centre, we launched the second edition of the Australian Small Business White Paper. This follows the success of the release of the landmark first edition in 2015.
Not surprisingly, our latest release focuses on many of the aspects from the earlier edition; such as productivity, regulation, taxation, access to finance and capital, innovation, competition policy, job creation, workplace relations, trade and internationalisation. We have also introduced new areas, such as cyber security and mental health of small business operators, which will continue to be the subjects of further research and policy development.
This body of work is a great achievement, but we will not rest on our laurels by merely saying ‘job done’. It is now imperative that our ongoing advocacy work stands behind the many recommendations contained within the White Paper and we push for reforms that are in the best interests of small business in Australia.
However, this is just the start as we look to support our members here and in other jurisdictions where we represent the interests of small business.
Most nations see small business as the ‘engine room’ of their respective economies. As cliché as that may sound, it’s statistically true. However, I believe small business is much more than just the engine room; it’s the whole plant and factory. Despite this, in Australia we still lag behind some of the initiatives championed in other countries that elevate small business to the front of policy-making.
We have formed the IPA Group to influence and drive change. We have already introduced a Small Business White Paper in Shanghai, and our intention is to create a similar vehicle in the UK. Many of the issues impacting small business here in Australia are faced by small business globally and， therefore, will be ‘transferable’ to the UK market. However, our efforts in the UK (and other markets) must take into consideration the local political and regulatory environments.
With the academic support we have acquired in the UK to establish a sound research base, I expect to start the process of establishing the UK version in early 2019. This series of White Papers will underpin in the IPA Group’s growing influence and recognition in an increasingly integrated, global and digital economy.
What is the relevance to our members? More than 70 per cent of IPA Group members service small business, and as their trusted advisers, we should represent not only the interests of our members but also, the small businesses and SMEs they serve. This is something you should be proud to share with your clients, employers and businesses.
In closing, I would like to thank our members for engaging so actively throughout the recent member roadshows and for the strong support shown for our strategic plan 2025.
Andrew Conway FIPA FFA