One gets the impression that the National Audit Commissions Report was written by the big end of town, for the big end of town. The issues that relate to small business, particularly those either in or planning to get into export, seem to have been left behind of dismissed altogether.
The SME sector is the backbone of Australian business and a significant contributor to jobs. Research conducted by the Export Council of Australia (Australia's International Business Survey) clearly supports the importance of SME companies that engage in export due to their higher than average investment in training and the sheer need for them to lead the Research & Development and innovation agenda.
But to be successful on the international stage, SME's need support and that's not just an Australian phenomenon it's happening as we speak right across the world and driven further by the need to react to the downturn created by the GFC.
So, for the National Audit Commission to suggest that programs like the Export Market Development Scheme (EMDG) be scrapped can only have one downside and that downside is to make Australian business less internationally competitive. What makes it worse is the absolute fact that EMDG has to be one of the best economic stimulus programs ever conceived.
Every review, and there have been many, has proven without doubt that it works and importantly returns about thirteen dollars for every dollar invested. So why on earth would you scrap it, it just doesn't make any sense at all.
It's probably correct to say that the Export Finance Insurance Corporation (EFIC) has not been a significant player in the SME sector. But interestingly the Productivity Report on Australia’s Export Credit Arrangement said it should and the Export Council of Australia agrees.
Why on earth would anyone suggest that EFIC, a body that makes a substantial profit, be closed down. And why would it be suggested that Australia be the only country not to have an Export Credit Agency. If anything, EFIC should be expanded to assist SME exporters that continually face difficulties in raising capital.
And Austrade, to be pillaged once again is Australia's key export and investment agency. Austrade has a fine history of building export capability and assisting thousands of companies, particularly SME companies, find markets and develop an International presence.
Can anybody explain to me why a government agency that actually helps drive business and income to Australia is continually downsized when departments that do little more than create often unnecessary regulation and red tape keep growing?
It defies logic.
There may be some good aspects to the commission’s report but anything that is going to make Australia less competitive internationally, certainly fails to cut it for me.
Ian Murray, Executive Chairman- Export Council of Australia