The new Labor government and Small Business are strange bedfellows.

Unfortunately, the appointment of Julie Collins as Minister for Small Business does not imbue confidence that the Albanese government will prioritise small business.

ALP won government with 77 seats, and now has a two seat majority in the House of Representatives. But with less than one in three people voting for them, Labor should be wary about how it uses the word “mandate”. Still a 64 per cent Two Party Preferred outcome is a resounding victory.

The old adage of “oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them” certainly applied this time with the Liberals being decimated losing several blue ribbon seats to independents.

With a majority, Labor does not need the support of the cross benches in the lower house. It will be interesting to see just how collaborative PM Albanese is when purely in terms of the numbers he has no need to collaborate. A smart and brave first move might be to offer the Speaker’s position to one of the independents. This would save Labor from losing a vote on the floor of the House and also indicate it was ready to embrace a more respectful working environment.

It is a different story in the Senate where Labor does not have a majority and may well have to do deals with the Greens who picked up three new seats.

The decimation of the Coalition has created the prospect of Labor holding power for at least two terms. Whether they achieve this will depend on several factors including:

  1. How well they perform.
  2. Whether the Liberals can recover.
  3. What impact the independents have and whether the trend away from supporting the two major parties continues.


In a pre-election article “Which is the best party for small business?” we concluded that on small business issues alone a Labor government is less likely to be helpful than the Coalition.

Unfortunately, the appointment of Julie Collins as Minister for Small Business does not imbue confidence that the Albanese government will prioritise small business.

The new minister won the Tasmanian seat of Franklin for the fifth time. Collins worked for the Labor movement from the age of seventeen until 2007 when she was elected to Parliament. In the Rudd/Gillard era she held ministerial responsibility for a number several areas including housing, women and community services. In opposition she has held similar shadow ministries.

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Ms Collins has not worked in or owned a small business which is not a prerequisite but is hardly ideal. She will also be hold other ministry positions of Housing and Homelessness. She will be a member of cabinet although over 75 per cent of all ministers will sit in the Albanese cabinet

On the other side of the political fence, it was interesting to hear the new Liberal leader Peter Dutton note that “corporate Australia is more in step with Labor and the Greens these days and the way back to power for the Liberal Party rested with small and micro-business operators, the suburbs and the regions”.

This comment did not win plaudits from the top end of town but gives hope to the small business sector. This may be a pointer as to who Dutton will appoint as the new shadow minister.

Stuart Robert who retained the relatively safe Queensland seat of Fadden could retain the small business portfolio in opposition or Dutton might use this as an opportunity for renewal. He does not have a lot of options.

The small business sector has a big challenge ahead in engaging with Minister Collins and the Albanese government. All stakeholders need to work together to strengthen the sector that everyone seems to accept is “the backbone of our economy”.


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