I’m sure most of us will be well and truly tired of the Federal Election campaign and the wash-up over the weekend, so I was hoping I would be able to use this column to reflect on the winner, and what it means for the retail sector. Of course, there’s not a clear winner and it looks like it will be days and perhaps weeks until there is – most likely a minority government in a hung Parliament.
Unfortunately, that’s the worst possible outcome for business. We had very much hoped for a strong result and a clear mandate for one side of politics to get on with the job of governing.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has claimed he will be able to form government. Even if this turns out to be true, he may struggle to pass some of the more business-friendly aspects of his policies – such as corporate tax cuts and an increase in the instant asset write-off threshold. And disappointingly, the task of reinstating the Australian Building and Construction Commission – the rationale for the double dissolution – now appears almost impossible. While that doesn’t directly affect retail, the cost of construction flows through to leasing costs and directly to the bottom line of retail businesses in shopping centres. So it would have been good to see some genuine reform in that area.
Some weeks ago I expressed a hope that – regardless of who won the election – we could go three years with the same Prime Minister. Australians are sick of the leadership merry-go-round that we have experienced since 2007. It’s been 10 years of turmoil, and I was hopeful that we could put it behind. Unfortunately, the make-up of the Parliament seems destined to keep this cycle of uncertainty continuing.
There is a very positive note from Saturday’s election, however. We congratulate the former CEO of the NRA, Trevor Evans, on his election to the House of Representatives as the Member for Brisbane. As the Chairman indicated a couple of months ago when Trevor stood down to contest the election, retail will fare well from having someone in the Parliament who understands the challenges faced by small businesses and the policy settings needed for retail to succeed.
We will no doubt have more to say about the election in coming weeks. However, with the new financial year upon, us retail business owners need to get down to work, even if the politicians remain in limbo for a while. So on that note, just a quick reminder that retail award wage rates have changed from last Friday (July 1).
Make sure you have updated the rates for your personnel. If you are in any doubt, give the National Retail Association’s employment experts a call on 1800 RETAIL. Don’t put your business at risk by getting it wrong.
I hope you have a productive week.
Ian Winterburn, Deputy Chariman & Acting CEO