By David Bates

When the next federal election comes around and the Coalition inevitably loses the ability to govern (either in its own right or at all), confused and defeated Liberal and National MPs will no doubt wander around wondering ‘what went wrong’ and ‘how did it come to this’.

To those Coalition MPs: this is what went wrong, and this is why you were defeated:

1. Your election campaigns focussed on your support and respect for Australia’s small business owners. But then, after you’d been in power for a while and thought no one was looking, you quite happily dumped the small business portfolio onto a minister who isn’t even a cabinet member. Turns out you only cared about small business owners when you needed our votes.

2. You implemented no meaningful reforms of any kind whatsoever to Labor’s anti-small business Fair Work laws. Yes, you talked and talked about ‘innovation’, flexibility’, and ‘agility’, but you didn’t bother listening to any of the stakeholders who told you time and time and time again that the current laws make achieving any of those lofty ambitions virtually impossible.

3. You ran an entire, two-month long, double-dissolution election campaign without mentioning workplace relations. That could, perhaps, have been forgivable had it not been for the fact:

  • the entire election was actually triggered by the Senate’s refusal to pass workplace relations-legislation, and
  • the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption had just confirmed every small business owner’s worst fears about union thievery and thuggery, and
  • you were also busy telling us how much you cared about small business!

4. The relevant Minister basically was basically missing in action for the entire campaign. We should have known then your heart wasn’t really in it. You watched on in silence as scandal after scandal engulfed the Fair Work Commission. It was your job to speak up in defence of common decency when the Commission itself couldn’t or wouldn’t. You didn’t.

5. You failed to appoint small business owners to the Commission. When Labor is in power, they go to town appointing union officials, but when you were in power you just forgot that small business owners know more about the realities of workplace relations than you ever will.

So, wonder no more, your fate was sealed the day you won the last election and spent every week thereafter focussed on further expanding unaffordable middle class welfare, doubling our national debt, and pouring yet more money into the black hole that is our country’s 18 overlapping state, territory and commonwealth departments responsible for health and education.

We know Labor won’t be any better for small business, we just decided they couldn’t possibly be any worse. And, besides, at least they didn’t cynically pretend to be on our side just to get our vote.

No, Coalition, Australia’s small business owners won’t miss you.