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The rhetoric surrounding the policy is that the changes proposed are pro small business; that they will protect small business…presumably against big business. Let us be very clear about this. If small business needs protection against big business, then this is not the way to do it.


These proposed changes will not do small business any good. They will not do big business any good. They will not do any business any good.They are misguided changes. They are anti-business; they are anti-investment If there is a need to protect small business, we need to be very clear about what we are protecting small business against. It has not defined it, nor has it defined how big that problem is either by the number of businesses it affects, nor by what it costs.

The proposed cure is worse than the as yet unspecified illness. Indeed it’s not apparent that 2 there is a severe illness. There is no evidence that the retail sector is in a slump, much less that it is in a slump caused by big business being unfair to small business, or that the actions of so-called big landlords is sending small retailers broke.

If such a problem exists, where are the statistics to show us how a big a problem it is? Is it a ten per cent problem, or a one per cent problem? I think the real issue is that we have not defined the problem. Let me identify for you the real areas where reform is needed.

Property Council represents owners of retail property, but also a number of retailers. These businesses operate in a regulated marketplace for the very simple reason that Governments throughout Australia have taken a collective decision to introduce certain societal and economic objectives into the way shopping centre’s operating.

It is a regulatory regime which seeks to balance reasonable protection for retailers with the aim of encouraging reinvestment by owners in these centre’s, and trying to create a climate where the owners, millions of mum and dad investors, many of whose retirement incomes depend on the profitability of these centre’s, will be satisfied investors and reinvestors.

The returns delivered are by and large steady and predictable, reliable without being spectacular. The shares in these investments are generally not volatile but offer stability and certainty. Certainty is essential for those who manage the centres on behalf of investors, the millions of mums and dads who in turn want certainty of retirement income.