Speaking at the launch of Victoria’s 11th Small Business Festival on 28 July 2016, the Hon. Philip Dalidakis (Victorian Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade) announced a government-wide review to cut red tape and reduce the regulatory burden on Victoria’s small businesses.

With the average small business in Australia spending around five hours per week on red tape, the Minister noted that regulatory barriers are having a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of small businesses.

The Minister advised that the Victorian Government will examine how regulation is impacting the 542,000 small businesses operating across three sectors of the state’s economy over the next two years – with the State’s retail sector being the first focus.

Shortly after this event, the Victorian Government released an Issues Paper seeking comment on the degree to which regulatory issues are affecting small retail businesses in Victoria (https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/ehq-production-australia/9bf8e54f82975f46d35c8c317837726de5338e47/documents/attachments/000/039/672/original/10080_SBV_Regulations_Review_Issues_Paper_Brochure_WEB.pdf?1469513343).

“The Victorian Government focus on small business regulation is a very welcome one”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

“While we believe that there are a number of regulatory issues affecting small petrol/convenience retailers in the State, it is worth noting that some of the recent decisions taken by the Victorian Government have served to minimise the cost of fuel/convenience retailing relative to other states such as NSW”, said Mark.

In particular, the recent decision to harmonise rate board regulations with South-Australia -in lieu of adopting the more onerous and costly regulations that apply in New South Wales -was welcomed by the industry.

“We also note that the Victorian Government’s fact-based approach to management of underground petroleum storage systems and management of evaporative emissions from fuel filling operations has helped to minimise the compliance burden for small retailers relative to that incurred by NSW fuel retailers, said Mark

Nonetheless, there are a number of issues of regulatory concern in Victoria and ACAPMA has identified these issues in a formal submission provided to the Review this week.

The ACAPMA submission identified three key issues that are impacting adversely on fuel small fuel retail businesses.

  1. Long delays (and considerable uncertainty) in securing approvals for new fuel/convenience sites and upgrades of existing sites

ACAPMA noted member reports that small businesses have regularly encountered delays of up to three years in securing statutory approvals for new fuel/convenience sites and/or upgrades of existing sites.

The net effect of this problem is that long delays in approvals, in the face of finance costs accruing from the date of site purchase, are creating a substantial disincentive for small businesses seeking to start up in the petrol-convenience industry.

ACAPMA suggested that this issue might be resolved by the establishment of a one-stop approval shop within the office of Small Business and/or development of more definitive approval guidelines for use by local councils.

  1. Financial impost of payroll tax

ACAPMA noted that labour costs are the second highest cost for a petrol/convenience business and therefore the imposition of payroll tax on these businesses is a significant deterrent to employment within the sector.

ACAPMA suggested that the wholesale removal of this tax would remove this disincentive and potentially deliver benefits in the form of lower government expenditure on unemployment benefits and increased employment of youth in regional areas by small petrol/convenience businesses.

  1. Inconsistent application of Food Safety Regulations

ACAPMA observed that here appears to be serious inconsistency in the applications of Food Safety Regulations – particularly in Regional and Rural Victoria – resulting in small businesses with multiple sites in different local areas being required to adopt different food handling practices for identical food items.

ACAPMA suggested that this issue warranted attention and suggested that the current issues could be addressed via the development of state-wide guidelines for use by local council inspectors and small businesses alike.

FURTHER INFORMATION

A full copy of ACAPMA’s submission can be downloaded here and further information about this submission can be obtained by contacting Mark McKenzie (ACAPMA CEO) on 1300 160 270 or by email at markm@acapma.com.au

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