Commerce gives small businesses a leg up

Date: Mar 02, 2009
Document Type: Newsletter

The Chambers of Commerce have greatly assisted small businesses around the country in the last month to help them cope in the global economic crisis.

In south-west Western Australia, small businesses will receive a crash-course in the state's industrial laws next week.

Executives from the Department of Commerce are on an education tour, offering free advice to firms and workers on employment rights and obligations. Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River are the first legs of the tour.

Joseph Lee from the department says there are many small businesses in the south-west and it is very important that they understand their responsibilities.

"It's imperative that employers understand their lawful obligations in the event that employers underpay or fail to pay their employees appropriate entitlements," he said.

"It not only creates the potential that they have difficulty retaining trained and productive staff, but also creates the possibility of unexpected debt."

In Queensland, the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce said last month that cutting red tape would be one way of helping small business cope with the global financial crisis.

70,000 jobs were cut worldwide and the chamber says it is inevitable some local businesses will start considering laying off workers.

President Shane Charles says while the Federal Government's economic packages are helping the wider economy, more can be done.

"Business owners still have a lot of red tape to get through in this current economic sentiment I suppose, in that there's a feeling we're all doing it tough so no-one's spending," he said. "Small business does need a kick along."

The slumping economy has eroded conditions for small- and medium-sized businesses to an all-time low, while dashing profit expectations, a new report says.

The trading environment for small business "deteriorated further'' in the December quarter, according to National Australia Bank's fourth-quarter SME survey, the lowest index score since the survey began in June 2006. Overall, conditions dipped three index points to minus-4 in the period.

"Business directly affected by the downturn in consumer spending are finding it hard going,'' said NAB regional general manager of business banking Geoff Greer.

SMEs on the lower end of scale reported the gauge of conditions contracting 10 index points in the December quarter from minus-2 in the September quarter. Medium sized companies - with a turnover of $3 million to $5 million - said conditions shrank to minus-6 index points in the December quarter from a nil result in the previous three months.

Large sized SMEs - annual turnover between $5 million and $10 million - were the best performing, declining by an index point to a still poor -1 index point,'' the report said.

Companies in that category had also reported flat conditions in the third quarter.

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