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OPINION: NSW Small Business Minister claims the Opposition are the ones out of touch with small business?

After days of being slammed by small business owners for scrapping Small Business September and other programs, the NSW Small Business Minister has today tried to brand the Opposition “out of touch with small business”.

Last week Dynamic Business broke the news that Small Business September and other programs were being scrapped. There was no public announcement to this effect and we were not sent a media release (when I raised this yesterday I was told we have now been added to that mailing list. As the largest circulating small business magazine in the country it worries me we were not already on it).

The Minister replied that the programs were simply being replaced by the new Small Biz Connect program which had been announced two weeks prior. It is interesting that Dynamic Business was never sent an announcement to that effect yet today they made sure we received their attack on the Opposition.

Apparently the programs were scrapped because some 500 small business owners on Small Business Commissioner Yasmin King’s ‘listening tour’ said they didn’t want events. Dynamic Business has asked for the statistics which show how many people had this view but nothing has been forthcoming. We have also asked when the State Government intended to announce that Small Business September and other events were being scrapped had we not broken the story. This too has not been answered.

My impression, from speaking to numerous small business owners, is whether they agree with the decision to scrap these events or not (and most don’t), the seeming lack of proper consultation and attempt to sweep this under the carpet is what concerns them most.

The full text of the Minister’s press release today, which in my opinion, smacks of political spin, can be read below. It contains a quote from Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) executive director Peter Strong, saying the decision was welcomed and it was something his organisation had been asking for. I’d like to know where he got the impression that this was what small businesses wanted because it’s not the impression I get here in Sydney.

Personally, I find this media announcement very hard to swallow. I have been invited to meet with the Minister on Thursday afternoon and I will report back on that meeting on Friday.

Yesterday, we published shadow minister Adam Searle’s comments about the axing of small business programs. You can read them here.

Today’s media statement:


Minister for Small Business, Katrina Hodgkinson today said Labor’s attacks on the NSW Government’s new $5 million Small Biz Connect program showed they still have no clue about how to support small business in NSW.

“The NSW Government is rolling out a new $5 million Small Biz Connect program that will expand support services at a grass roots level for small businesses, all Labor can do is scaremonger from the sidelines,” Hodgkinson said.

“Labor need to get their facts straight before they attempt to spook hard-working small business operators in NSW.

“As part of our commitment to backing small business, two weeks ago the Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner and I announced that the NSW Government will redevelop its small business advisory services into the Small Biz Connect program, which will provide for the expansion of small business support services across the State.

“The Small Biz Connect program is based on the same principles as the Federally-funded Enterprise Connect program and will provide access to a State-wide network of skilled small business advisors.

“This may come as news to the Opposition but the NSW Government has already made it clear that mentoring programs such as the Women in Business and the Young Entrepreneur Program will be available to small business across NSW through Small Biz Connect and other providers,” Hodgkinson said.

“These innovative reforms have been welcomed by small business operators across the State and industry, including the Executive Director of the Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) who said: “Rather than waiting for people to turn up to meetings, the NSW Trade and Investment is focusing on going out into the businesses.

“We’re all so busy that getting to small business events is hard yakka. It’s a really good change and it’s something we’ve been asking for.”

As well as the National Chairman of Business Enterprise Centre Australia, Jack Hughes who said: “BEC Australia finds it profoundly encouraging that Minister Hodgkinson made particular reference to research that showed small business owners prefer advice delivery to take place face-to-face.

“This is a crucial insight because it shows that Small Biz Connect is a program set up to succeed from the outset.”

“Former union official Sophie Cotsis and part-time barrister Adam Searle clearly don’t understand the needs of small business owners in NSW,” Hodgkinson said.

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Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop

Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.

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