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Time to Thrive

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									      August 2006




Time to Thrive
Supporting the changing face
of Victorian small businesses
> MESSAGE FROM THE PREMIER


 OUR GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO ENSURING THAT VICTORIA CONTINUES TO BE THE BEST
 PLACE IN AUSTRALIA TO START AND GROW A BUSINESS.

                       A vibrant and innovative small business sector lies at the very heart of our
                       prosperity as a State, as it generates the jobs and productivity growth that sustain our
                       economic wellbeing.
                       Over the past six years the Victorian Government has put in place a series of major
                       reforms that provide real and practical benefits to small business. The cost of doing
                       business has been cut by reducing State taxes and charges, obstacles that impede
                       growth have been removed and we have invested in world class infrastructure.
                       Victoria has also implemented Australia-first initiatives that enable small businesses to
                       compete on a more level playing field, such as the Small Business Commissioner and a
                       fair payments policy.
                       However, there is more work to be done to ensure that Victoria continues to lead the way
                       in supporting small business growth. That is why the Government has delivered Time to
                       Thrive: Supporting the changing face of Victorian small businesses – an action plan that
                       delivers real and practical benefits to small business.
                       Our Government believes that with policies in place that support the aspirations of small
                       businesses and by removing obstacles that impede their potential, small businesses will
                       continue to deliver growth, investment and jobs for Victorians into the future.




                       STEVE BRACKS MP
                       Premier of Victoria
                                                                                                                   Small Business Statement




                                                                                                                   1
                           > MESSAGE FROM THE
                             MINISTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS


                            VICTORIA’S SMALL BUSINESS SECTOR REFLECTS THE DIVERSITY, ENTHUSIASM AND VIBRANCY
                            OF ITS BUSINESS OWNERS AND OPERATORS.

                                                   Time to Thrive: Supporting the changing face of Victorian small businesses is the
                                                   outcome of an extensive consultation process that has involved valuable contributions
                                                   from small business operators and business support organisations from across the
                                                   State. They have drawn from their past experiences and future aspirations to
                                                   participate in the development of a strategy to promote a thriving and dynamic small
                                                   business sector.
                                                   Small businesses often have the market intelligence, business nous and operational
                                                   agility to identify and respond to emerging opportunities. In light of significant
                                                   socio-economic changes over the past decade, such as the intensity of market
                                                   competition, the uptake of technology and the ageing of the workforce, the small
                                                   business sector itself is rapidly changing.
                                                   Two-thirds of all small businesses today are taking advantage of the convenience and
                                                   flexibility of working at or from home, particularly with the range of technologies now
                                                   available. Linked to this, changes in how businesses structure their workforce have
                                                   meant that, through design or necessity, there has been a large growth in the numbers
                                                   of independent contractors.
                                                   Just as small business is adapting to a changing marketplace, the Victorian Government
                                                   has taken stock of its small business policies and services to ensure they continue to
                                                   meet the emerging needs of small business, now and into the future.
                                                   In responding to these issues, the initiatives contained in Time to Thrive focus on four
                                                   key themes:
                                                   • More time for business;
                                                   • Skilling small business for growth;
                                                   • A fairer deal for small business; and
                                                   • Cutting the cost of doing business.
                                                   In doing so, the Victorian Government re-affirms its commitment to promoting
                                                   a competitive and fair business environment within which small business can thrive.
Small Business Statement




                                                   ANDRÉ HAERMEYER MP
                                                   Minister for Manufacturing & Export
                                                   Minister for Financial Services
                                                   Minister for Small Business

2
> TIME TO THRIVE:
  HIGHLIGHTS


 The Victorian Government is working to make Victoria the best place in Australia to start, grow and operate a
 business. The Government recognises that small business is the engine room of our economy and that small
 business growth is a major source of new jobs and wealth. The Government believes that enterprise and
 innovation should be encouraged and celebrated.
 At the same time, the Government recognises that Victoria’s small business sector is changing. Home-based
 businesses and independent contractors represent an expanding part of the small business sector, and they
 present different challenges for Government to provide appropriate services. To ensure small businesses
 continue to thrive in Victoria, the Government’s policies and services are changing to meet the needs of these
 new businesses.

 HOW THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT IS RESPONDING TO THE CHANGING FACE
 OF SMALL BUSINESS:

 Time to Thrive includes a range of new initiatives to help all types of Victorian small businesses:


 Start-ups                                                    Established businesses
 (new businesses and people buying a business for the         (small businesses with the desire and potential to expand
 first time)                                                  and/or export)
 • Mentoring services and workshops for new small             • Substantial investment to identify skills gaps in small
   business operators to develop skills at the key              businesses and to train staff in relevant areas to address
   formative stages                                             skills shortages
 • Toolkits for new business operators, tailored for home-    • Assistance to improve occupational health and safety in
   based businesses, independent contractors, franchises        small businesses
   and retail businesses
                                                              • Support for succession planning and contingency
 • Simplified processes for registering and licensing a new     planning for small business owners
   business or buying an existing business

                                                              Independent contractors
 Home-based businesses                                        (such as truck drivers, tradespeople, IT professionals,
 (such as services businesses, professionals, etc)            consultants, etc)
 • Mentoring, advice and training services tailored for       • Support of the Victorian Small Business Commissioner
   home-based businesses                                        for owner drivers and forestry contractors
 • Reduced complexity of regulation and licensing             • Demonstration projects and assistance on collective
   compliance across Local, State and Federal                   negotiation for small businesses
   Government
                                                              • Toolkits and training for people new to independent
                                                                                                                             Small Business Statement




 • Support for local management skills development              contracting
   networks for home-based businesses




                                                                                                                             3
                           > A $98 MILLION PROGRAM
                             TO SUPPORT THE CHANGING FACE
                             OF SMALL BUSINESS


                            MORE TIME FOR BUSINESS                                        Action 7: Using design to increase business
                                                                                          competitiveness
                            Small business owners and operators want less red tape
                            when dealing with Government. The Victorian Government          $15 million on a range of programs to promote our world
                            will reduce the time businesses need to spend complying         class design capabilities and maximise the use of
                            with regulation and make it easier for businesses to find       Victoria’s design expertise
                            what they are looking for from governments at local, state    Action 8: eCommerce for small business
                            and federal level.
                                                                                            $0.4 million to facilitate better use of eCommerce by
                            Action 1: World Class Service                                   small business
                              $18 million to make it easier for small businesses to       Action 9: Celebrating small business success and
                              interact with Government and to find the information        sharing world’s best practice
                              they need
                                                                                            Energise Enterprise, Victoria’s small business month
                            Action 2: Reducing the regulatory burden                        of events
                              $42 million to cut red tape for businesses and
                              not-for-profit organisations                                A FAIRER DEAL FOR SMALL BUSINESS
                                                                                          Many small businesses believe there can be an imbalance
                            SKILLING SMALL BUSINESS                                       in market power so that they face particular difficulties
                            FOR GROWTH                                                    in their dealings with larger organisations. The Victorian
                                                                                          Government is expanding measures to support fair
                            A vibrant and growing small business sector underpins         competition and promote a diverse and competitive
                            Victoria’s economic prosperity. Giving entrepreneurs and      marketplace.
                            business owners the opportunity and the skills they need to
                            start and grow businesses will enable innovation and job      Action 10: Supporting the expanded role of the
                            creation to thrive.                                           Victorian Small Business Commissioner

                            Action 3: Improving occupational health and safety              Including an additional $0.5 million to support
                            in small businesses                                             independent contractors and owner drivers

                              More than $2 million to help small businesses get           Action 11: Ensuring small businesses are paid
                              targeted advice so they can improve safety in their         promptly
                              workplaces                                                    An extension of the Government’s Fair Payments policy
                            Action 4: Supporting new businesses                           Action 12: Making it easier for small businesses to sell
                              $4 million for programs and services supporting             products and services to Government
                              those    going   into  business,   independent                New Government procurement policies to assist
                              contractors and home-based businesses under an                small businesses
                              expanded Under New Management program
                                                                                          Action 13: Addressing imbalances in negotiating power
                            Action 5: Facilitating business growth, investment
                            and export                                                      Demonstration projects and assistance in collective
                                                                                            negotiation for small businesses
Small Business Statement




                              $5 million for the Sustaining Business Growth program to
                              help small businesses access the training, advice and
                                                                                          CUTTING THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS
                              support they need
                                                                                          The Victorian Government is strongly committed to
                            Action 6: Addressing         the   skills   shortage   for
                                                                                          reducing business taxes and costs.
                            small businesses
                                                                                          Action 14: Cuts to payroll tax and land tax
                              More than $10 million for the Business Skills for the
4                             Future program                                              Action 15: Cuts to WorkCover premiums
> CONTENTS


 PREMIER’S MESSAGE                                                                                    1

 MINISTER’S MESSAGE                                                                                   2

 HIGHLIGHTS                                                                                           3

 INTRODUCTION The changing face of small business                                                     6

 THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT’S COMMITMENT TO SMALL BUSINESS                                              8

 MORE TIME FOR BUSINESS                                                                              11
  Action 1:      World Class Service                                                                 13
  Action 2:      Reducing the regulatory burden                                                      14

 SKILLING SMALL BUSINESS FOR GROWTH                                                                  15
  Action   3:    Improving occupational health and safety in small businesses                        16
  Action   4:    Supporting new businesses                                                           17
  Action   5:    Facilitating business growth, investment and export                                 18
  Action   6:    Addressing the skills shortage for small businesses                                 19
  Action   7:    Using design to increase business competitiveness                                   20
  Action   8:    eCommerce for small business                                                        21
  Action   9:    Celebrating small business success and sharing world’s best practice                22

 A FAIRER DEAL FOR SMALL BUSINESS                                                                    23
  Action   10:   Supporting the expanded role of the Victorian Small Business Commissioner           24
  Action   11:   Ensuring small businesses are paid promptly                                         25
  Action   12:   Making it easier for small businesses to sell products and services to Government   26
  Action   13:   Addressing imbalances in negotiating power                                          27

 CUTTING THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS                                                                  29
  Action 14: Cuts to payroll tax and land tax                                                        30
  Action 15: Cuts to WorkCover premiums                                                              31

 INVESTMENT SUMMARY                                                                                  32
                                                                                                          Small Business Statement




                                                                                                          5
                           > INTRODUCTION:
                             THE CHANGING
                                           BUSINESS
                             FACE OF SMALL GESTED IMAGES         SUG




                             The nature of small business is changing. Self-employed independent contractors, home-based business operators
                             and young entrepreneurs are changing the way business is done. The Government’s approach to small business
                             policy is changing to match.


                             Small business is the lifeblood of the Victorian economy.         These trends are creating a new generation of small business
                             Where once small business might have been characterised           people who are willing to take risks and be responsible for
                             by the corner family milk bar or motor repairer, now it is just   their own success, but who need support and assistance
                             as likely to be a sophisticated bar in a Melbourne laneway or     that is specific to their needs.
                             an internet-based home business. More than that, small
                                                                                               There are also many small businesses that will remain small
                             business is at the centre of Victoria’s outward-looking
                                                                                               and are satisfied with their current business. These
                             entrepreneurial spirit.
                                                                                               businesses remain the lifeblood of local communities and
                             The small business sector is increasingly innovative. Small       crucial to the economy as a whole.
                             businesses are more and more likely to be connected to the
                                                                                               The changing small business environment means
                             international marketplace. They are more interested in adding
                                                                                               Government also has to change in order to support small
                             value than just driving down costs. They are not afraid to take
                                                                                               business effectively. It is time to give small businesses extra
                             on big business in a fair, competitive environment. They strive
                                                                                               encouragement and support to thrive. Not all small
                             to be the best – not just in their local area, but in a global
                                                                                               businesses are seeking to grow, but those that do wish to
                             economy. They are innovative, creative and nimble, reacting
                                                                                               expand need to be allowed to do so in a fair and competitive
                             quickly to changes in market needs.
                                                                                               business environment. They don’t need to be overburdened
                             The nature of employment is also changing. Young people           by regulation or to face barriers to accessing the skills or
                             are increasingly entrepreneurial and are just as interested in    information they need to run a successful business.
                             starting their own business as they are in starting a career
                             as an employee. Other workers, through choice or necessity,
                             are striking out on their own as independent contractors.
                             Home-based businesses are increasing in number faster than
                             any other type of small business. Franchising is another
                             popular method Victorians are using to become small
                             business owners.
Small Business Statement




6
> SMALL BUSINESS IN VICTORIA



    300,300 businesses (employing fewer than 20 staff)          Almost a third of operators are aged over 50
    96% of all businesses                                       A third of operators are women
    43% of private sector employment                            Almost 200,000 Victorian home-based business,
    31% of small businesses are in regional areas               and increasing fast
    29% of operators were born overseas                         About 11,000 small exporters




 NUMBER OF EMPLOYING SMALL BUSINESSES BY INDUSTRY, VICTORIA, JUNE 2004
 Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004



                    Cultural and recreational services (2.0%)


                     Personal and other services (3.6%)                 Communication services (1.1%)


     Accommodation, cafes and restaurants (3.7%)                          Education (0.8%)

                Transport and storage (4.5%)                                    Mining (0.1%)

  Health and community services (5.6%)                                               Electricity, gas and water supply (0.1%)


           Wholesale trade (5.7%)
                                                                                             Property and business services (20.9%)




  Finance and insurance (7.1%)


          Manufacturing (7.7%)
                                                                                                 Construction (14.5%)




        Agriculture, forestry, fishing (8.1%)
                                                                                                                                      Small Business Statement




                                                                          Retail trade (14.4%)




                                                                                                                                      7
                           > THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT’S
                             COMMITMENT TO SMALL BUSINESS


                            Small businesses are a vital part of Victoria’s economy and community, essential to achieving economic growth,
                            creating new jobs and increasing exports. They are critical to the supply chains that feed industry and businesses
                            of all sizes. Small businesses are also the glue that holds communities together, especially in provincial Victoria –
                            providing the local products and services that communities need.
                            That is why the Victorian Government is backing Victoria’s small businesses.
                            We have conducted extensive public and industry consultation to properly understand the needs and challenges
                            of Victorian small businesses.

                            Concerns include:                                              Since 1999, we have undertaken measures that have
                                                                                           promoted economic growth throughout Victoria, focusing
                            • Reducing red tape and having more time to do business
                                                                                           on reducing business costs and State Government taxes,
                              - streamlining access to (and quality of) Government         lowering the compliance burden, improving Victoria’s
                                information for small businesses;                          economic infrastructure, strengthening education and
                              - improving business infrastructure (such as broadband       training, and encouraging a more innovative and outward
                                in regional areas);                                        looking business sector. Many small businesses have
                              - reducing the cumulative burden of red tape and             benefited directly from these measures.
                                complying with regulation;
                                                                                           Victorian initiatives that have helped small businesses
                              - improving links between business names registration
                                                                                           remain competitive include:
                                and intellectual property protection; and
                              - understanding what Government services are available       • announcing cuts to land tax worth about $2 billion over
                                for small businesses.                                        the last three budgets, providing substantial relief to
                                                                                             owners of commercial and investment property;
                            • Developing the skills they need to start, operate and grow
                              a successful business                                        • increasing the payroll tax threshold so that only 10% of
                                                                                             Victorian businesses pay payroll tax, and significant cuts
                              - accessing start-up and expansion finance;
                                                                                             that reaffirm Victoria as having the second lowest payroll
                              - improving the management and business skills of small
                                                                                             tax rate in Australia;
                                business operators and people new to small business;
                              - accessing business mentors and networks;                   • a third consecutive 10% reduction in the WorkCover
                              - finding quality staff;                                       average premium rate to 1.62% of wages, which is 25%
                              - developing succession and contingency planning skills;       lower than the average rate in New South Wales and 46%
                              - identifying and implementing opportunities for               lower than in South Australia;
                                collective negotiation by small businesses; and
                                                                                           • the abolition of a number of taxes including bank account
                              - celebrating and showcasing small business
                                                                                             debits tax, rental business duty and mortgage duty;
                                success stories.
                                                                                           • substantial investment in infrastructure; and
                            • Operating in a fair and competitive business environment:
                                                                                           • establishing the Small Business Advisory Council and the
                              - overcoming a perception of unfair and/or
                                                                                             Ethnic Enterprise Advisory Council to provide policy input
                                anticompetitive practices by large businesses;
                                                                                             and front-line experience to ensure the Government’s
                              - being paid on time by customers, including Government;
                                                                                             actions are relevant and valuable to small businesses.
Small Business Statement




                              - improved access to Government tenders and
                                procurement; and
                              - cutting payroll tax and land tax.




8
> MAKING BROADBAND HAPPEN
  FOR SMALL BUSINESS IN VICTORIA


 Broadband plays a critical role in enabling small business growth. Just as railroad infrastructure once
 revolutionised business, so will broadband.
 Broadband has the potential to substantially improve small business performance, by providing access to new
 markets and opening up even the smallest business to customers all over the world. However, many businesses
 are not able to access broadband and are unsure about how to tap into this new business tool.
 While telecommunications and broadband infrastructure are a Commonwealth Government responsibility, the
 Victorian Government does not believe Victorian businesses should have to wait to reap the benefits. By taking
 a strategic approach to its own telecommunications needs, the Victorian Government is committed to making
 broadband happen across the State.

 In a key initiative, the Victorian Government                  Regional broadband access has also been improved
 created the online Broadband Access Office                     through the Victorian Government’s $5 million Customer
 (www.mmv.vic.gov.au/broadband)         to   assist   small     Access Network Demonstration Program in Gippsland,
 businesses connect to broadband in a cost-effective way.       Shepparton,       Castlemaine,      Wodonga        and  the
 This valuable resource provides information on broadband       Pyrenees/Northern Grampians regions. In the Grampians
 access in particular regions and provides up-to-date price     and Loddon Mallee regions, a direct investment of $6 million
 and service comparisons. It also helps determine the           through the Victorian Government’s ‘Moving Forward’
 broadband requirements of a business and identify              Strategy will improve accessibility and affordability.
 commercial opportunities that broadband can offer.
                                                                The Victorian Government’s broadband commitment is
 The Victorian Government has taken a strategic approach        enabling new business models, such as home-based
 to its telecommunication purchasing to deliver spin off        businesses, to succeed in regional Victoria. In fact,
 benefits to Victorian communities. Through its                 home-based businesses are increasing in number faster
 Telecommunications Purchasing and Management                   than any other kind of business in Victoria. The Government
 Strategy (TPAMS), the Government has facilitated an            is developing a Victorian Teleworking Strategy to support
 almost $200 million improvement to the State’s                 and foster this new way of working.
 telecommunications infrastructure. More than 700
                                                                The Victorian Government will continue to work hard to
 telephone exchanges will be upgraded to service
                                                                maximise the opportunities broadband offers small
 Government demand, which will have long-term benefits for
                                                                businesses.
 small businesses across the State.
 As a result of this strategic approach to purchasing, more
 than 150 towns will have access to business-grade DSL
 services and more than 20 towns will receive ADSL services
 for the first time. Around 50 locations across Victoria will
 benefit from competitive broadband, and wireless
 broadband has been provided in Seymour and Bendigo.
                                                                                                                               Small Business Statement




                                                                                                                               9
> MORE TIME
  FOR BUSINESS


 Small business owners and operators do not want to spend time dealing with red tape when
 they could be growing their business or spending time with family and friends.
 The Victorian Government will reduce the time businesses need to spend complying with
 regulation and make it easier to find what they are looking for from Governments at Local, State
 and Federal level.


   Action 1:       World Class Service


   Action 2:       Reducing the regulatory burden




 PROGRESS SO FAR …
 The Government has streamlined communication and service delivery to small business through:
 • better co-operation across tiers of government;
 • co-operative agreements with industry associations;
 • the Small Business Advisory Council and the Ethnic Enterprise Advisory Council that
   provide direct input into the Government’s policy making process;
 • improved online services including the Business Licensing Information System (BLIS) and
   the Victorian Business Master Key (VBMK); and
 • a single point of entry for business services with the Business Victoria website
   (www.business.vic.gov.au).


 The regulatory burden on Victorian small businesses has been reduced through:
 • assistance provided to Local Governments to cut red tape affecting home-based business,
   enabling them to receive $6.3 million in Federal Government funding, with expected savings to
   small businesses of approximately $45 million over two years;
 • strengthened scrutiny of regulations by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission; and
 • wider use of Business Impact Assessments, which explicitly examine the effects on
   small business, when considering the introduction of new legislation.
                                                                                                      Small Business Statement




                                                                                                      11
                            > THE VICTORIAN
                              BUSINESS MASTER KEY
                              – ALREADY MAKING IT EASIER
                              TO START A BUSINESS IN VICTORIA


                             The Victorian Business Master Key project makes starting a new business easier. We have spent $6 million over
                             the past three years to create a linked network of Victorian Business Centres, the Victorian Business Line call
                             centre and the Business Victoria website.


                             Victorian Business Centres                                        Step-by-Step Guides
                                                                                                 Follow easy-to-use guides that provide a customised
                             The 12 Victorian Business Centres provide over-the-counter          path through the issues from a business perspective, and
                             information on business services from all tiers of                  help you to produce a personal To-Do list.
                             government and the private sector. These are located at
                             Melbourne, Dandenong, Glenroy, Vermont, Ballarat,                 Find a Contact
                             Bendigo, Geelong, Mildura, Shepparton, Traralgon,                   Find the right contact for a particular topic such as
                             Wangaratta and Wodonga.                                             maternity leave, employing children or obtaining a
                                                                                                 second-hand dealer’s licence.
                             Victorian Business Line
                                                                                               Search across Government
                             13 22 15 offers free business start-up and operating                Search every Government website (federal, state, local)
                             information, referrals to specialist business service providers     from one place.
                             and details of any required licences.
                                                                                               Find Licences
                             Business Victoria website                                           Find information on all Government licences, permits,
                                                                                                 registrations and codes of practice needed for your
                             The Business Victoria website (www.business.vic.gov.au)
                                                                                                 particular business and location.
                             brings together information and services from across
                             Government and provides easy-to-understand information            Business Victoria Account
                             on doing business in Victoria.                                     Open a Business Victoria account to locate, store and
                                                                                                manage all your regulatory transactions and information.
                             Specific topics include starting and registering a business,
                             financial management and taxation, employing staff and            Programs, Grants and Assistance
                             workplace safety.                                                   Search a comprehensive directory of business assistance
                                                                                                 available from Government.
                             Since the Victorian Business Master Key was launched in
                             December 2005, traffic to the Business Victoria website has
                             increased by 125%. More than 14,000 people have used
                             the on-line Step-by-Step Guides, with a 90% satisfaction
                             rating. The website is also handling more than 6000
                             inquiries a month, and offers answers to more than 1000
                             frequently-asked questions from across Government.
                             A range of customised services are available on the
                             website, including:
                             Ask a Question
                              The fastest way to get the information you need is to ask
                              a specific question. If we can’t give you an immediate
 Small Business Statement




                              answer, we’ll either find it or put you in touch with
                              someone who can answer it.




12
>   ACTION 1:

    WORLD CLASS SERVICE


    Easier access to the large amount of information on offer for small businesses from all levels of Government is
    critical. Small businesses want to meet their regulatory obligations without wasting time searching for information
    that should be readily available. The $6 million Victorian Business Master Key was the initial stage in a joined-up
    business information service for a limited number of agencies across all levels of Government.


    The Victorian Government will provide a further                World Class Service will reduce the time, effort and money
    $18 million for World Class Service, an initiative to          it costs businesses to comply with necessary regulation. It
    integrate and improve Government services to                   will be an integrated service network across more than 200
    business. World Class Service will create a single             State, Federal and Local Government agencies that deal
    entry-point for government services and information            with small businesses.
    that further reduces the administrative burden of
                                                                   It will provide a single login to an online whole-of-
    compliance for Victorian small businesses.
                                                                   government account, to make multi-agency transactions
                                                                   such as change-of-address much simpler.


    INTERACTING WITH GOVERNMENT – MAKING IT EASIER

     WORLD CLASS SERVICE IN 2010

     Any point of entry is the right point of entry for businesses looking for information or assistance

     Content is developed across agencies related to business issues (eg employment, premises)
     rather than individual regulatory issues

     All questions to Government can be serviced through a single contact

     Businesses can talk to a support officer while both are viewing the same on-line content

     Client service is ongoing, with case management to manage the overall interaction even across multiple queries

     Transactions are available through a single login from one site. Multi-agency transactions including change of
     address are available

     All major transactions with Government can be done online

     Increased self-service and technology-assisted inquiry resolution improves service and reduces costs for
     business and Government
                                                                                                                                 Small Business Statement




     Businesses are informed of new information through timely, personalised email updates




                                                                                                                                 13
                            >   ACTION 2:

                                REDUCING THE
                                REGULATORY BURDEN


                                Small businesses feel the burden of red tape and regulation more than larger businesses because they are often
                                time-poor and have limited resources. The Government recognises that the burden of regulation impacts
                                disproportionately on smaller businesses.
                                Victoria has led the way in reducing the regulatory burden on business. In 2004 we established the Victorian
                                Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC). VCEC is the Victorian Government’s foremost body advising on
                                business regulation reform and identifying opportunities for improving Victoria’s competitive position. New
                                regulations are assessed for their impact on businesses (including small businesses) through the use of Business
                                Impact Assessments and Regulatory Impact Statements, administered by VCEC.
                                The Victorian Government will continue to work on ways to reduce the impact of regulation on small
                                businesses and has provided $42 million over four years to reduce regulatory burden.
                                The Reducing Regulatory Burden initiative represents a new policy framework to cut red tape for businesses and
                                not-for-profit organisations.

                                To reduce the burden we will:                                  Small Business Vendor’s Statement Reform
                                • cut the existing administrative burden of regulation by      A Vendor’s Statement is required every time an existing
                                  15% over three years, with a target of cutting 25% over      small business is bought and sold, if the price is less than
                                  the next five years;                                         $200,000. The Vendor’s Statement is used to help address
                                                                                               the information imbalance that can exist between a buyer
                                • ensure the administrative burden of any new regulation is
                                                                                               and a seller of a small business. By law, vendors have
                                  met by an offsetting simplification in the same or
                                                                                               to disclose all relevant licences, permits, leases and various
                                  related area;
                                                                                               other facts about the business, including at least
                                • increase scrutiny of new legislative proposals to ensure     24 months’ worth of financial trading information.
                                  the impact on small business is taken into account; and
                                                                                               Victoria supports informed decision-making when people
                                • undertake a program of reviews to identify the necessary     are looking to buy an existing small business. However, the
                                  actions to reduce compliance burdens. This program will      Vendor’s Statement is essentially unchanged since it was
                                  be combined with incentive payments, akin to those           introduced in 1980 and is outdated. It overlaps with other
                                  under the National Competition Policy, to reward             disclosure requirements, meaning that some vendors have
                                  outcomes which reduce the regulatory burden.                 to fill out three separate forms to provide information to
                                                                                               prospective buyers.
                                The Victorian Government continues to lead inter-
                                jurisdictional regulatory reform through the National Reform   The Victorian Government will undertake a review
                                Agenda framework adopted by the Council of Australian          of the disclosure requirements for the sale of small
                                Governments (COAG) in February 2006.                           businesses to modernise existing arrangements and
                                                                                               ensure the Small Business Vendor’s Statement is
                                The Government is actively pursuing greater harmonisation
                                                                                               easy for vendors to complete and useful for
                                of regulation with other States, Territories and the
                                                                                               prospective purchasers.
                                Commonwealth to reduce the burden on Victorian small
                                businesses that operate interstate.
 Small Business Statement




                                In particular Victoria will work with COAG to reduce the
                                complexity of cross-border issues relating to:
                                • occupational health and safety regulations;
                                • building regulations;
                                • business name registration and business licensing; and
14                              • training and skills recognition.
> SKILLING SMALL BUSINESS
  FOR GROWTH


  A vibrant and growing small business sector underpins the State’s economic
  prosperity. Giving entrepreneurs and business owners the opportunity and the skills
  they need to start and grow businesses will allow innovation and job creation to thrive.


    Action 3:       Improving occupational health and safety in small businesses


    Action 4:       Supporting new businesses


    Action 5:       Facilitating business growth, investment and export


    Action 6:       Addressing the skills shortage for small businesses


    Action 7:       Using design to increase business competitiveness


    Action 8:       eCommerce for small business


    Action 9:       Celebrating small business success and sharing world’s best practice




 PROGRESS SO FAR …
 Victoria provides a range of targeted skills development programs and resources to meet the
 needs of small businesses at different stages of their business life cycle, including:
 • high growth business and technology commercialisation programs including VicStart,
   Opening Doors to Export and Grow Your Business;
 • business skills development programs including Under New Management, StreetLife and
   Women in Business;
 • accessible and affordable resources for small businesses including Victorian Business
   Centres, www.business.vic.gov.au, the Victorian Business Line 13 22 15 and the small
   business mentoring and counselling program;
 • programs to assist small businesses win Government contracts; and
 • eCommerce skills programs to help small businesses understand and utilise the capabilities
                                                                                                Small Business Statement




   of new technologies.




                                                                                                15
                            >   ACTION 3:

                                IMPROVING OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH
                                AND SAFETY IN SMALL BUSINESSES


                                Health and safety in the workplace is as important in a small business as it is in a large one. In many ways the
                                challenge of creating and maintaining a safe work environment is greater, because small businesses often lack
                                the time and the specialist resources or knowledge to focus on health and safety issues.


                                More than 90% of employers in Victoria’s WorkCover              The Victorian WorkCover Authority’s (VWA) Small Business
                                scheme are small to medium sized companies with an              Safety Assistance Program offers employers with fewer than
                                annual payroll of less than $1 million.                         50 employees a free three-hour occupational health and
                                                                                                safety consultancy session at their workplace. In 2004-05
                                Home-based businesses and independent contractors
                                                                                                about 1200 businesses used this service. VWA also
                                have their own specific issues with respect to safety and the
                                                                                                provides a WorkCover/WorkSafe advisory telephone service
                                Victorian Government is committed to providing assistance
                                                                                                for businesses.
                                to help these groups create safer workplaces.
                                                                                                The Victorian Government will provide a further
                                The Victorian Government believes that the best approach
                                                                                                $2.4 million over the next two years to help small
                                to helping small businesses improve safety in the workplace
                                                                                                businesses improve safety in their workplaces.
                                is through collaborative partnerships. Since 2001 we have
                                provided 6,000 small and medium sized businesses with           Specific initiatives include additional free three-hour safety
                                free independent safety advice. Legislation has also been       audits conducted by an independent safety specialist,
                                changed to enable workplace safety inspectors to provide        including the development of Safety Action Plans for small
                                advice on how businesses can comply with safety                 business employers, and a ‘new starters toolkit’ containing
                                legislation and achieve a safe workplace environment,           simplified occupational health and safety material for people
                                rather than only issuing infringement notices on unsafe         new to business or new to the WorkCover scheme.
                                workplaces.
                                As a result, Victoria is now a safer place to work than ever
                                before. With a third consecutive 10% cut in premiums, in
                                2006-07 Victorian employers will save $520 million
                                compared to 2004, with the lion’s share of this remaining in
                                small business. The average premium rate in Victoria is now
                                1.62% – the lowest in the scheme’s history.
 Small Business Statement




16
>   ACTION 4:

    SUPPORTING
    NEW BUSINESSES


    Victoria encourages and supports entrepreneurs. About 60,000 new businesses are created here each year,
    ranging from start-up retailers, franchises, manufacturers and service businesses to new home-based small
    businesses and independent contractors striking out on their own.
    The control and responsibility that comes with owning and operating a business appeals to many people from
    all backgrounds.

    Not all business ventures succeed – risk is an inherent part      With almost a third of Victorian small business operators
    of entrepreneurship. But entrepreneurs and people new to          aged over 50, succession planning needs to be a high
    small business can be given basic support to make sure they       priority so that owners can achieve full value for their
    have the best chance possible to succeed. Nearly all start-       businesses if they decide to sell. However, research shows
    ups struggle at some point and can benefit from having            that few small businesses think about succession early
    somewhere to turn for help and advice.                            enough. Planning for contingencies, such as a natural
                                                                      disaster or if the business owner falls ill and cannot run
    We already provide valuable services for these ‘business
                                                                      the business, is also rare among small businesses.
    intenders’ to guide them through the process of starting a
    business, such as the Victorian Business Line and the             As part of this initiative, the Government will assist
    Business Victoria website, where entrepreneurs can find           small business owners to properly plan for succession
    all the factual information they need to start and operate        or contingencies.
    a business.
                                                                      The program is based on the Government’s successful
    The changing face of small business means that new                support services, mentoring, business counselling and
    services are needed.                                              business training programs for small businesses.
    A further $4 million will enable the successful                   The Supporting New Businesses investment is not about
    Under New Management program to continue,                         picking winners or investing in early-stage, high-risk
    providing people starting or buying a business with               ventures. It is about providing entrepreneurs and new
    support and advice tailored to their needs. In                    business owners with the information and support they need
    particular, workshops and business mentoring                      to give them the best chance to turn their ideas into
    services will address the emerging needs of                       successful businesses.
    independent contractors and home-based businesses.




        Under New Management – skills development programs for new small business operators
        Since 2003, the Under New Management (UNM) program has provided valuable and practical information on going into
        business, buying a franchise, signing a retail lease and undertaking strategic business planning.
        The program involves a choice of four workshops and six seminars designed to assist Victorians in making better
        informed business decisions. Each workshop is complemented with one-on-one business mentoring for each
        participant. Almost 3000 business operators or people thinking about going into business attended one of 185 UNM
        workshops or seminars in 2005.
        The active support of more than 60 organisations such as community groups, education and training bodies, trade and
        industry associations and local councils in hosting the workshops has enabled the program to be delivered locally at a
                                                                                                                                   Small Business Statement




        low cost to participants.
        Workshops and information sheets available to culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including workshops
        delivered in Turkish and Mandarin, have been of tremendous value to intending Victorian small business operators who
        were born overseas.
        To find out more about how to participate in Under New Management, or how your organisation can host workshops or
        seminars, please contact 13 22 15 or visit www.business.vic.gov.au/workshops.

                                                                                                                                   17
                            >   ACTION 5:

                                FACILITATING BUSINESS GROWTH,
                                INVESTMENT AND EXPORT


                                Economic prosperity, jobs and exports are in large part a result of the growth of successful small and medium sized
                                businesses. Many established small businesses are capable of growth but are missing the help they need to focus
                                on growth, creating jobs and exporting.

                                For these businesses that have moved beyond the start-up           The Victorian Government will invest $5 million over
                                phase, substantial barriers to growth remain. Small business       four years in a new Sustaining Business Growth
                                owners face skills gaps (especially in business planning and       initiative that will ensure that small businesses with
                                management areas) and a lack of time to spend on planning          the potential to innovate and grow have access to
                                for growth. Appropriate support can put businesses on a            the right training, advice and support when they
                                path to growth.                                                    need it most.
                                In particular, independent contractors and home-based
                                businesses are often isolated from business support
                                networks, training opportunities and business mentoring that
                                can improve their profitability and help them to grow.




                                    SMALL BUSINESS AND ACCESS TO FINANCE
                                    Although many small businesses are finding it easier to access capital for growth than in the past, many start-ups
                                    and other small businesses still find it hard to borrow money or attract investment.
                                    According to recent research commissioned by the Victorian Government, about 40% of start-ups said obtaining
                                    business finance was easy, but about 35% said it was difficult.
                                    To assist small businesses in obtaining finance, the Victorian Government runs a range of workshops and seminars
                                    such as the Women’s Access to Finance program. In addition, the Government offers the services of a number of
                                    expert mentors with extensive backgrounds in business finance, including both debt and equity finance. For further
                                    information, visit www.business.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Business Line on 13 22 15.




                                    CASE STUDY: CRISTINA RE DESIGNS
                                    Cristina Re started a stationery company in 1997 and, together with brother and business partner Federico,
                                    exploited a niche in the wedding industry for do-it-yourself designer stationery.
                                    With the help of Victorian Government Grow Your Business and First Step Exporter grants, the company developed
                                    a formal business plan, including an evaluation of its export potential. The company has recently taken on extra staff,
                                    brought in new stock and developed a product catalogue, and building export sales is its next goal.
 Small Business Statement




18
>   ACTION 6:

    ADDRESSING THE SKILLS SHORTAGE
    FOR SMALL BUSINESSES


    Skills shortages are restricting small business growth. Many small businesses cannot find the skilled employees
    they need to grow their business.


    Research suggests many Victorian small businesses:               The Victorian Government will invest $10.6 million over
                                                                     four years to assist Victorian businesses to plan their
    • do not fully appreciate the benefits of training employees;
                                                                     workforce needs and access appropriate skills
    • lack the resources to properly plan staff development;         development and training opportunities for staff.
    • do not know what is available to them in the training          The investment will give small businesses access to
      sector; and                                                    independent experts who can assess their workforce and
                                                                     skill needs. It will also provide practical financial assistance to
    • want advice on training and workforce planning from
                                                                     access appropriate training services to address the skills
      someone they trust and who understands their business.
                                                                     gaps identified in the assessments.
    In March 2006 the Victorian Government released
    Maintaining the Advantage, a policy which committed
    $241 million to develop the skills of Victorians. Part of that
    investment is specifically to help small businesses, including
    small and medium sized manufacturers, to improve their
    workforce planning and find the skills they need to expand
    their businesses.




        CASE STUDY: WAIVESTAR GROUP
        WaiveStar Group is a Victorian supply chain management company whose business is procurement, design, print,
        storage, fulfilment and distribution, all supported by an on-line e-business infrastructure.
        In only five years, WaiveStar Group has grown from a two-person operation into a thriving business whose growth
        has enabled it to invest in its own proprietary software and in-house expertise. With an expanding customer list that
        includes blue chip corporate clients, WaiveStar Group demonstrates that you can grow successfully from small
        beginnings whilst remaining competitive and customer service driven.
                                                                                                                                           Small Business Statement




                                                                                                                                           19
                            >   ACTION 7:

                                USING DESIGN TO INCREASE
                                BUSINESS COMPETITIVENESS


                                The design sector contributes $6.8 billion to Victoria’s gross state product and employs 67,000 Victorians.The
                                vast majority of design businesses are small businesses. Disciplines include industrial design, architecture, urban
                                design, television, fashion, visual communication and computer software design.

                                Design is a critical source of value-adding, competitive        The four new design programs are:
                                advantage and differentiation for traditional and emerging
                                                                                                  Design Ready – increasing the proportion of Victorian
                                industries. Victoria has a strong design base and is a
                                                                                                  enterprises that know how to use design to increase
                                national champion in design skills and services. Design is an
                                                                                                  competitiveness, innovation and export performance;
                                enabler that can make a business more competitive,
                                from redesign of the business process itself through              Business Ready – improving the competitiveness of
                                to products and marketing.                                        Victorian design consultancies and in-house design
                                                                                                  teams, and increasing the sector’s exports through
                                However, the sector is fragmented and local and
                                                                                                  seminars and workshops and benchmarking;
                                international consumers are not always aware of Victoria’s
                                innovative qualities and capabilities.                            Design Knowledge – building a world class body of
                                                                                                  knowledge on how Victorian enterprises use design to
                                The Victorian Government will provide $14.9 million
                                                                                                  deliver economic, environmental and social benefits; and
                                over four years to promote and develop the
                                design sector and boost business opportunities                    State of Design – building Victoria’s national and
                                internationally.                                                  international reputation as a centre of design leadership
                                                                                                  through the biennial Premier’s Design Awards and a State
                                                                                                  of Design Public Events Program.




                                    CASE STUDY: MONTANA FOODS
                                    Montana Foods, a small Thornbury manufacturer of gourmet dips and tapenades, is building healthy export sales
                                    in Asia by gaining first-hand knowledge of its potential overseas markets.
                                    After Managing Director, Andrew Papas visited a number of Asian countries in 2005, the company’s exports
                                    increased by around 60%. A grant from the Victorian Government’s First Step Exporter program enabled Andrew
                                    to visit Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.
                                    Montana products are now gaining a foothold in some of the biggest supermarket chains in Hong Kong and
                                    Singapore.
 Small Business Statement




20
>   ACTION 8:

    eCOMMERCE FOR
    SMALL BUSINESS


    The benefits to small businesses of eCommerce and information technology are huge, but often business
    operators do not have the skills (or the time) to make full use of new technology to improve their business.


    The Victorian Government will spend a further $0.4 million on collaborative programs aimed at increasing the
    uptake of eCommerce across Victoria and to enable small businesses to make better informed decisions about
    implementing eCommerce in their business.




       CASE STUDY: ROFIN AUSTRALIA
       Rofin Australia is a company rich in intellectual property in the fields of optics, electronics and software and has
       become a unique Australian technological success. Rofin’s forensic science light technology range, developed at its
       Victorian headquarters, is used in more than 3000 locations in 77 countries by key organisations, including the
       Australian Federal Police and numerous other policing bodies overseas.
       For example, Rofin has developed a specialised light source designed specifically to assist forensic scientists to
       examine crime scenes. The fact that a small Victorian technology-based company like Rofin can develop and supply
       high end scientific equipment worldwide says a lot about Victoria’s way of doing business.
       Rofin was the winner of the 2005 Governor of Victoria Export Awards in the Small to Medium Manufacturer and
       Innovation Excellence categories and subsequently won a 2005 Australian Export Award in the Small to Medium
       Manufacturer category.


                                                                                                                              Small Business Statement




                                                                                                                              21
                            >   ACTION 9:

                                CELEBRATING SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS
                                AND SHARING WORLD’S BEST PRACTICE


                                Energise Enterprise, Victoria’s Small Business month of events, comprised over 200 events held across
                                Victoria during June 2006. It provided inspiration, information and ideas for Victorians to start, run and build
                                their small business.


                                The objectives of Energise Enterprise are to:                   • further promote ongoing linkages between               the
                                                                                                  Government and key small business organisations.
                                • celebrate small business success and acknowledge small
                                  business as the cornerstone of Victoria’s economy;            Energise Enterprise was so successful that it
                                • deliver practical outcomes for small business (through        will become a permanent feature of the small
                                  events such as training workshops or seminars and             business calendar in Victoria.
                                  networking opportunities); and




                                    CASE STUDY: BOX OFFICE MOVIES
                                    Frank Peters is one of Victoria’s newest entrepreneurs. Frank credits the skills and confidence gained from one of
                                    the Government’s Buying a Franchise workshops with helping him to develop a shopping centre-based DVD
                                    hire franchise.
                                    Frank’s business is Box Office Movies – which rents the top 400 DVDs for children and adults. He opened his first
                                    store at Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, a second franchise kiosk in Frankston, and kiosks in Cranbourne and
                                    Kooringal soon after. Turnover for the business quickly passed half a million dollars.
                                    Frank is proof that the $30 workshop and mentoring fee is one of the best business investments around. He is one
                                    of over 3000 Victorians who are making better business decisions after attending one of the Victorian Government’s
                                    highly successful workshops.
 Small Business Statement




22
> A FAIRER DEAL FOR
  SMALL BUSINESS


 Small businesses often perceive an imbalance in market power in that they face particular
 difficulties in their dealings with larger organisations. The Victorian Government is expanding
 measures to support fair competition and promote a diverse and competitive marketplace.



   Action 10:       Supporting the expanded role of the Victorian Small Business Commissioner


   Action 11:       Ensuring small businesses are paid promptly


   Action 12:       Making it easier for small businesses to sell products and services to Government


   Action 13:       Addressing imbalances in negotiating power




 PROGRESS SO FAR …
 Fair competition is regulated by Federal legislation, including the Trade Practices Act 1974,
 and monitored by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). However,
 there is much that Victoria can do to promote a fair, competitive business environment.
 Recent initiatives to help achieve a fair go for all businesses include:
 • establishment of the Victorian Small Business Commissioner in May 2003;
 • introduction of a Fair Payments clause into Government contracts to reduce late payments
   to small businesses by Victorian Government departments;
 • introduction of security of payment legislation for the building and construction industry,
   protecting small building and construction contractors from poor payment practices by
   unscrupulous operators;
 • extensive training courses for small businesses that want to learn how to become suppliers
   to Government;
 • new information and communication technology (ICT) procurement guidelines that allow
   contractors to, by default, retain ownership of intellectual property they develop under
   contract with Government;
                                                                                                        Small Business Statement




 • introduction of the Retail Leases (Amendment) Act 2005 to provide greater certainty for
   retail tenants and enable them to negotiate on a fair basis with landlords; and
 • introduction of the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 to clarify the rights
   and responsibilities of owner drivers and contractors in the forestry sector.




                                                                                                        23
                            >   ACTION 10:

                                SUPPORTING THE EXPANDED ROLE OF THE
                                VICTORIAN SMALL BUSINESS COMMISSIONER


                                The Victorian Small Business Commissioner (VSBC) is an independent office, established in 2003, that promotes
                                the interests of small business and aims to resolve business disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner.


                                The VSBC:                                                           One group of small businesses that the VSBC can help is
                                                                                                    independent contractors. In 2005 the Victorian Government
                                • supports small business;
                                                                                                    passed new legislation to assist vulnerable contractors in
                                • promotes informed          decision-making      by    small       the transport and forestry industries. The Owner Drivers and
                                  business operators;                                               Forestry Contractors Act 2005 aims to promote transport
                                                                                                    and forestry industries that are competitive and fair
                                • mediates retail tenancy disputes and disputes in the
                                                                                                    by regarding owner drivers as small businesses rather
                                  building, transport and forestry industries;
                                                                                                    than employees. The legislation provides for provision
                                • investigates complaints about unfair market practices;            of business information, basic protections for owner drivers
                                • minimises the costs of disputes between small and large           and a framework for effective and affordable dispute
                                  businesses; and                                                   resolution.

                                • encourages government administration that is conscious            One effect of the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors
                                  of small business needs.                                          Act 2005 is to give the VSBC a role in assisting independent
                                                                                                    contractors with dispute resolution.
                                The VSBC’s dispute resolution service has been a
                                resounding success, resolving over 70% of disputes with a           The Victorian Government is supporting the expanded
                                total value exceeding $100 million. Successful mediation by         role of the Victorian Small Business Commissioner.
                                the VSBC means less work for the court system and a                 Increased funding of $0.5 million will enable the VSBC
                                reduction in costly litigation.                                     to better fulfil its responsibilities, including its new
                                                                                                    role in providing dispute resolution services for
                                                                                                    independent contractors and owner drivers.




                                THE VICTORIAN SMALL BUSINESS COMMISSIONER IN ACTION

                                Information and education
                                A small business contacted the VSBC because a supplier was pressuring the business to purchase from them. The supplier
                                claimed that a former employee of the small business had verbally agreed to purchase its products on an ongoing basis.
                                The small business advised the distributor that there was no written purchase agreement, and they would not continue to purchase
                                the supplies. However, the distributor made threatening phone calls and pressured the small business to continue buying
                                their products.
                                VSBC staff contacted the distributor indicating that the allegations, if correct, could warrant a complaint to the Australian
                                Competition and Consumer Commission. As a result, the distributor agreed that it would no longer contact the small business.

                                Mediation and dispute resolution
 Small Business Statement




                                A tenant referred a dispute to the VSBC concerning responsibility for structural repairs. The VSBC organised mediation between
                                the tenant and the landlord, where both parties argued that the other was legally responsible for the cost of repairs.
                                The mediator suggested that both parties would benefit from the works being completed – the tenant would have the ability to
                                attract a larger number of higher-paying customers, and the landlord would have a building with a higher value use.
                                The parties agreed to share the costs of the repairs. The landlord also agreed to grant the tenant an option for an additional term
24                              in order to amortise the tenant’s share of the repair cost.
>   ACTION 11:

    ENSURING SMALL
    BUSINESSES ARE PAID PROMPTLY


    Victoria recognises that the late payment of bills can adversely affect the cash flow of small businesses and put
    huge pressure on small business operators. Unlike many large businesses, small businesses do not usually have
    substantial cash reserves or lines of credit to carry the debts involved in late payment by customers, nor do they
    always have the resources to pursue unpaid bills.

    We have taken positive action to make sure small                 Since November 2004, all Government departments have
    businesses are less likely to be disadvantaged by late           been required to pay suppliers within 30 days of receipt of
    payments. The Building and Construction Industry Security        invoices for goods or services, where the value of the
    of Payment Act 2002, which came into force on 31 January         invoice is less than $3 million. Suppliers who are not paid in
    2003, provides a powerful and affordable mechanism for           time are entitled to penalty interest payments.
    small building and construction contractors to claim
                                                                     Since the Fair Payments clause was introduced in
    payments owed to them by other businesses in the building
                                                                     Government departments, the promptness of payments to
    sector. It means small contractors do not have to resort to
                                                                     suppliers has improved significantly.
    expensive legal action in the courts in the first instance if
    they experience delays in being paid.                            The Victorian Government will extend to major and
                                                                     significant agencies the commitment to paying bills
    Amendments to this Act were introduced in February 2006
                                                                     within 30 days (for contracts valued at less than $3
    to make it even easier for small construction contractors to
                                                                     million). We are also working with Local Government
    claim and receive payment entitlements. The Act now
                                                                     to encourage adoption of this policy across the Local
    allows a business to claim ownership of unfixed goods and
                                                                     Government sector and will support that sector to
    materials where payment has not been made.
                                                                     examine and address issues in its relationship to
    This legislation only applies in the building and construction   small business.
    industry. To ensure small businesses in all sectors of the
                                                                     The Government will also champion the principle of fair
    economy benefit from fairer and faster payment, the
                                                                     payments within the private sector. The Government will
    Government has successfully introduced a Fair Payments
                                                                     continue to lead by example when it comes to paying its
    clause into all Government department contracts valued at
                                                                     bills on time. It will promote prompt payment by private
    less than $3 million.
                                                                     companies, including large Government contractors and
                                                                     grant recipients, as a way of demonstrating good
                                                                     corporate citizenship.




            CASE STUDY: VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT FUNDS FACILITATE TAKE-UP OF
            BROADBAND BY LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES
            As part of the StreetLife program, businesses located at the Thomastown Industrial Precinct achieved improved
            connectivity to ADSL broadband and improved their business performance.
            Victorian Government facilitated research identified a broadband ‘blackspot’ containing about 330 properties in
                                                                                                                                      Small Business Statement




            the Thomastown Industrial Precinct. Negotiations with Telstra, as well as seminars and one-on-one sessions with
            business operators, led to the entire precinct being enabled with ADSL broadband.
            Businesses were introduced to the potential of broadband internet to improve their performance. A number of
            businesses are making the most of broadband infrastructure by having their businesses connected to the world.



                                                                                                                                      25
                            >   ACTION 12:

                                MAKING IT EASIER FOR
                                SMALL BUSINESSES TO SELL
                                PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TO GOVERNMENT


                                Every year the Victorian Government spends about $10 billion on goods, services and construction from the private
                                sector. These range from stationery, telecommunications infrastructure and office furniture to construction and
                                consulting services. The Government is not just one market, but a combination of many diverse markets with
                                different needs.
                                We are working to improve small business access to Government contracts. The Victorian Government Purchasing
                                Policy prohibits any action by a Government department that deliberately excludes small and medium sized
                                enterprises from participating in a purchasing activity.

                                The Government has been working on purchasing reforms in                  departments and agencies that small businesses can provide
                                the ICT sector. Under the ICT procurement policy:                         excellent value for money and innovative products and
                                                                                                          services. We recently published a Buyers Guide to
                                • insurance requirements and liability clauses must reflect the
                                                                                                          Government Purchasing, which highlights the opportunity to
                                  risk profile of the contract;
                                                                                                          use small suppliers, and Suppliers Guide to Government
                                • as a default, suppliers will own intellectual property in               Purchasing, which gives small businesses tips and advice on
                                  software (and associated documentation and tools) subject               how to tender to the Government. These guidelines are
                                  to a licence back to Government; and                                    available at the Victorian Government Purchasing Board
                                                                                                          website (www.vgpb.vic.gov.au).
                                • the Government’s preferred position in relation to key
                                  contractual clauses will need to be stated in the request for tender.   The Victorian Government will continue to improve
                                                                                                          small businesses’ access to Government contracts by:
                                The policy will assist suppliers, including small businesses, by:
                                                                                                          • establishing a small business hotline for Government
                                • minimising the need for them to bear unlimited liability;
                                                                                                            tenders, which will provide small businesses with general
                                • ensuring that         insurance       requirements       are     not      advice and information on how to bid for Government work
                                  unduly onerous;                                                           and act as a referral point for more detailed information on
                                                                                                            specific tenders;
                                • optimising their ability to commercialise software; and
                                                                                                          • investigating how the ICT procurement policy can be
                                • giving them a clear understanding at the beginning of
                                                                                                            extended to cover supply of other goods and services
                                  the procurement process of the Government’s preferred
                                                                                                            across Government;
                                  contractual position.
                                                                                                          • considering appropriate levels of professional indemnity and
                                The Government will examine how developments in ICT
                                                                                                            other insurance;
                                policy, particularly regarding insurance, could be extended to
                                the supply of goods and services more broadly.                            • reviewing the threshold that determines when public
                                                                                                            tenders are required for Government contracts for goods
                                The eServices Panel of suppliers has also made it simpler for
                                                                                                            and services, to give smaller businesses better
                                ICT businesses to deal with different Government
                                                                                                            opportunities to provide quotes on relatively substantial
                                departments because contract terms are agreed in advance.
                                                                                                            contracts;
                                More than $30 million worth of contracts have been
                                transacted through the Panel, with more than 70% of projects              • requiring Government purchasers to seek at least one quote
                                performed by Victorian companies.                                           from a small to medium sized business for goods and
                                                                                                            services for quotes over $15,000 but under the public
                                We also provide advice to small construction businesses on
                                                                                                            tender threshold, if appropriate;
                                how to pre-qualify for Government building and construction
                                work. There are about 400 builders on the Construction                    • continuing to raise the profile within Government and
 Small Business Statement




                                Supplier Register (CSR) who are pre-qualified to tender for                 its agencies of small businesses as suppliers;
                                works valued at more than $100,000, and many more small
                                                                                                          • continuing to provide regular seminars, workshops and
                                building businesses do Government work below this value.
                                                                                                            mentoring services for small businesses about how to bid
                                Small businesses can cut the costs of tendering and increase
                                                                                                            for tenders and do business with government; and
                                their opportunities to win Government work by becoming pre-
                                qualified with the CSR.                                                   • appointing a member who has extensive small business
                                                                                                            experience to the Victorian Government Purchasing Board
                                One of the biggest barriers to small businesses trying to sell to
                                                                                                            to facilitate implementation of these procurement initiatives.
26                              Government is a lack of awareness within Government
>   ACTION 13:

    ADDRESSING IMBALANCES
    IN NEGOTIATING POWER


    New laws proposed by the Federal Government will make it easier for small businesses and independent
    contractors to redress an imbalance in negotiating power by getting fast approval to negotiate collectively.


    The Victorian Government will raise awareness of the             We recognise the potential benefits of collective negotiation
    potential benefits of collective negotiation among               by small businesses in creating a fair competitive business
    small businesses, and will provide assistance and                environment. The Government will support a series of
    demonstration projects to increase the use of                    demonstration projects that will:
    collective negotiating opportunities.
                                                                     • raise the awareness among Victorian small businesses of
    Some industries, such as dairy farmers, have used the              collective negotiation provisions in the law;
    ability for small businesses to negotiate collectively. But on
                                                                     • facilitate the development of a collective negotiation
    the whole, few Victorian businesses have taken up the
                                                                       arrangement for selected groups of small businesses as
    opportunity to use collective negotiation to balance
                                                                       demonstration projects; and
    inequalities in bargaining power in the marketplace.
                                                                     • promote the benefits of collaboration to Victorian small
    There are still substantial barriers to small businesses
                                                                       businesses.
    developing collective negotiation arrangements. These
    barriers include a business culture not used to co-operation,
    gaps in information and knowledge of how to develop
    collective agreements among businesses, and the absence
    of a common pool of resources to help companies
    negotiate collectively.




            HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES WIN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
            There is a range of training workshops for small businesses that want to learn more about how to win
            Government business.
            In 2004 and 2005, we held 39 workshops across metropolitan and regional Victoria for small building and
            construction contractors and consultants, to inform the industry of how to pre-qualify for the Government’s
            Construction Supplier Register.
            For suppliers of other products and services, since 2002 more than 1400 business people have attended
            Winning Government Business seminars. Many of these people represent small businesses such as electrical
            contractors, technology firms, cleaning contractors, data management firms, clothing manufacturers and
            training providers.
            The seminars are designed to assist businesses that either wish to enter the Government marketplace or
            expand their involvement in supplying goods and services to Government. They aim to de-mystify the
            Government’s purchasing guidelines and explain to suppliers how they can best present their service
                                                                                                                                     Small Business Statement




            or product.
            On average about ten seminars are conducted across Victoria each year. Details about the seminars and how
            to book can be found under the Winning Government Business link at www.paccer.vic.gov.au.




                                                                                                                                     27
> CUTTING THE COST
  OF DOING BUSINESS


 The Victorian Government is strongly committed to reducing business taxes and
 making Victoria the best place in Australia to do business.


   Action 14:        Cuts to payroll tax and land tax


   Action 15:        Cuts to WorkCover premiums




 PROGRESS SO FAR …
 Since coming to office, the Victorian Government has steadily reduced the burden of business
 taxes. Victoria now has the second lowest number of State taxes, and from 1 January 2007
 we will have abolished seven taxes.
 The abolished taxes are:
   •   financial institutions duty;
   •   stamp duty on quoted marketable securities;
   •   stamp duty on non-residential leases;
   •   stamp duty on unquoted marketable securities;
   •   stamp duty on mortgages;
   •   debits tax; and
   •   rental business duty abolished from 1 January 2007.
 In particular, the Victorian Government’s program of cutting business costs and taxes will
 see payroll tax cut by 13% since coming to office.
 In 2003, the introduction of the Retail Leases Act meant that new lessees of small retail
 premises were no longer liable for the property owner’s land tax. In addition, the Government
 has increased the land tax tax-free threshold from $85,000 to $200,000, and has announced
 over $2 billion worth of land tax cuts over the last three Budgets. WorkCover premiums have
 been reduced by 10% for three consecutive years.
                                                                                                 Small Business Statement




                                                                                                 29
                            >   ACTION 14:

                                CUTS TO PAYROLL TAX
                                AND LAND TAX


                                Cuts to payroll tax announced in the 2006-07 Budget will benefit over 20,000 Victorian businesses. The rate will
                                fall from 5.25% to 5% over three years, saving businesses more than $530 million over four years. This reaffirms
                                Victoria as having the second lowest payroll tax rate in Australia.


                                Cuts to land tax will also benefit small business, especially   • abolishing indexation of land values in non-valuation
                                the reductions to the middle rates and the cap on land            years;
                                tax increases.
                                                                                                • enabling taxpayers to appeal their land valuation when
                                Land tax relief announced in the 2006-07 Budget includes:         they first receive their land tax bill; and
                                • a 20% reduction in middle land tax rates;                     • capping land tax increases at 50% in 2007.
                                • bringing forward the cut to the top rate from 5% when we
                                  were elected to 3% from 2007;




                                    CASE STUDY: CORONET – FASHION AT WORK
                                    Coronet – Fashion at Work is a corporate uniform manufacturer that commenced trading 70 years ago as a fashion
                                    clothing manufacturer in Flinders Lane. Having grown from two to more than 40 staff, the company moved to larger
                                    premises in Carlton, before recently moving to Port Melbourne. The Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional
                                    Development has helped Coronet grow through several of its small business programs. In 1996 the company
                                    introduced the new concepts of open book management and profit sharing which have been defined as world’s
                                    best practice.
 Small Business Statement




30
>   ACTION 15:

    CUTS TO
    WORKCOVER PREMIUMS


    A third consecutive 10% reduction in the WorkCover average premium rate was announced in the 2006-07
    Victorian Budget, saving Victorian businesses an additional $170 million per annum in premiums in 2006-07.


    This will be of significant benefit to Victorian small   The average premium rate in Victoria will be 1.62% of
    businesses, as they employ 43% of Victoria’s private     wages, the lowest level in WorkCover’s history. This is 25%
    sector workforce.                                        lower than in NSW and 46% lower than in South Australia.




    THIRD CONSECUTIVE 10% REDUCTION IN
    WORKCOVER PREMIUMS ($170 MILLION SAVINGS PER YEAR)
    2006-07 Victorian Budget


    Rate (%)


    3



                     2004-05 cut
    2                2005-06 cut
                     2006-07 cut



    1



    0
               QLD                 VIC    WA           NSW           SA

    Source: Department of Treasury and Finance
                                                                                                                           Small Business Statement




                                                                                                                           31
                            > TIME TO THRIVE:
                            >
                              INVESTMENT SUMMARY


                                                 ACTION                                                                               2006-2010

                                                 More Time for Business
                                    1            World Class Service (1)                                                              $18 million
                                    2            Reducing the regulatory burden (1)                                                   $42 million
                                                 Skilling Small Business for Growth
                                    3            Improving Occupational Health and Safety in small businesses (2)                     $2 million
                                    4            Supporting new businesses             (3)
                                                                                                                                      $4 million
                                    5            Facilitating business growth, investment and export (1)                              $5 million
                                    6            Addressing the skills shortage for small businesses       (4)
                                                                                                                                      $11 million
                                    7            Using design to increase business competitiveness (1)                                $15 million
                                    8            eCommerce for small business                (1)
                                                                                                                                      $0.4 million
                                    9            Celebrating small business success and sharing world’s best practice
                                                 A Fairer Deal for Small Business
                                    10           Supporting the expanded role of the Victorian Small Business Commissioner (1)        $0.5 million
                                    11           Ensuring small businesses are paid promptly
                                    12           Making it easier for small businesses to sell products and services to Government
                                    13           Addressing imbalances in negotiating power
                                                 Cutting the Cost of Doing Business
                                    14           Cuts to payroll tax and land tax
                                    15           Cuts to WorkCover premiums




                                                                                                                 TOTAL:              $98 million
 Small Business Statement




                              (1)
                                    State Budget 2006-07
                              (2)
                                    Victorian WorkCover Authority
                              (3)
                                    Victorian Property Fund
                              (4)
32                                  Maintaining the Advantage Victorian Government Skills Statement 2006
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