Labor slates small business digital taskforce for excluding SMEs

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Labor slates small business digital taskforce for excluding SMEs
Ed Husic

The Australian Labor Party has taken shots at the government's small business digital taskforce for its lack of representation from SME's.

The government launched the taskforce on Monday, which will work with small businesses to identify opportunities to adopt more digital technologies, operate more efficiently and take advantage of the digital economy.

The taskforce is led by entrepreneur and former TZ Limited chairman Mark Bouris, and includes other business and political figures such as former Microsoft Australia managing director and Suncorp head of innovation Pip Marlow, assistant minister for industry, innovation and science Craig Laundy and Liberal MP David Coleman.

Other members of the taskforce include Energy Renaissance chair Su McCluskey, NAB executive general manager Spiro Pappas and former Tyro Payments chief executive and BGA Digital managing director Gerd Schenkel.

Labor MP and shadow minister for the digital economy Ed Husic took aim at the government for inaction on promoting the digital economy. The government announced a consultation paper in September to overhaul Australia's digital economy strategy first released in 2011. The paper is due to be released sometime this month.

"Without doubt, our country does need to do more to boost digital engagement by small businesses. It makes their operations more efficient, improves interactions with customers and helps reach new markets," said Husic.

"But having been told time and again that Australian small business digital engagement needs to improve, it seems all the Turnbull government can do is announce a taskforce. Or a consultation paper. Or a review into a report, that probably won’t be actioned anyway."

Husic praised Marlow's inclusion in the taskforce, but criticised its lack of representation of small business owners.

"How do you set up a small business digital engagement taskforce and fail to engage small business representatives? Not a terrific start for a taskforce that has an important job to do."

The taskforce will present its findings by the end of February 2018.

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