The significant Government Ministerial re-shuffle in the critical portfolios of Small Business and Communications over the weekend has been welcomed by the Australian retail industry. ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman, has pointed to the lift in confidence expressed last week by the business sector as echoing the government’s commitment to issues including GST collection on overseas purchases and the possibility of reform of competition policy.

Victorian MP, Kelly O’Dwyer (pictured), is now Assistant Treasurer and Small Business Minister, a position previously held by Bruce Billson.

Kelly O'Dwyer

“Of course, the Assistant Treasurer is in effect the Minister for revenue and is responsible for the tax system which is at the very centre of our whole productivity agenda, indeed at the very centre of the small business agenda,” Turnbull said while announcing yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle.

“It is vital we have a tax system that is fair, efficient and creates the right incentives so that we can get the gains in productivity we need.”

The ARA has warned of the danger to the Australian small business sector which it said had

“been thrown into jeopardy, following the Federal Government’s backdown on competition reforms.”

A group calling itself  ‘The Independent Business Alliance for Competition’, representing two million small retailers, had expressed dismay at the Government’s decision to defer reforms proposed by the former Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson.

The Alliance has thrown its full support behind Minister Billson’s proposals to strengthen section 46 of the Competition Act, which would see an ’Effects Test’ put in place to stop big businesses from abusing their market power. This would apply particularly to the retail chains who dominate most market sectors.

Meanwhile, Mitch Fifield has been promoted as Minister for Communications, taking over the former portfolio of the now Prime Minister Turnbull. Senator Fifield, who was previously Assistant Minister for Social Services, comes across with some understanding of the communications portfolio having represented as manager of government business in the Senate.