Michaelia Cash was appointed Australia’s new Minister for Small & Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education after the leadership spill saw Malcolm Turnbull ousted and Scott Morrison appointed as Prime Minister.
Cash replaces Craig Laundy, who served as small business minister for just over eight months, and who followed Michael McCormack, Kelly O’Dwyer and Bruce Billson in the role. Here are three key facts to know about Minister Cash.
She was first elected to the Senate for Western Australia in 2007.
Having grown up in Subiaco, Western Australia, Cash made her first foray into politics as a member of the Curtin University Young Liberals from 1988 to 1990, and then the Western Australian Young Liberal Movement where she held numerous positions including State Vice-President.
Cash then worked as a solicitor with the law firm Freehills between 1999 and 2008, where she practised in all areas of employment and industrial law.
In 2007, Cash won pre-selection for the Liberal Party Senate ticket and went on to be elected to the Federal Parliament at that year’s election. Since entering Federal Parliament, Cash has served on many Senate Committees, including Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Men’s Health, and Climate Policy.
In 2015, Cash was appointed as Minister for Employment and Minister for Women in the Turnbull Government followed by Minister for Jobs and Innovation in December 2017, where she remained until she entered her current role under the Morrison Government in August 2018.
She’s been subpoenaed to give evidence on Australian Workers’ Union raids.
Earlier this year, Cash was subpoenaed to give evidence in the Australian Workers’ Union federal court case challenging the legality of the police raid of its headquarters. The Australian Federal Police is considering whether charges should be laid over leaks from Cash’s office about raids on the Australian Workers Union, which were in response to a $100,000 donation made to lobby group GetUp! when Bill Shorten was head of the AWU.
Cash initially denied tipping off the media about the raids but went on to tell a Senate committee that her senior media adviser had confessed that he had tipped off the media before the raids. The adviser has since resigned.
Her role supports a renewed focus on small business.
The Cabinet reshuffle earlier this year saw the small business ministry brought back into Cabinet in line with the Morrison Government’s renewed focus on Australian SMEs. It’s expected that support of small businesses will be a key talking point for the Liberal Party ahead of next year’s federal election.
Cash’s role as Minister for Small Business is intended to facilitate policies impacting small and family businesses. Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell said in a statement that she anticipates working with Cash on policies covering a number of small business issues.
“We look forward to working with Minister Cash on small business policy and a range of important issues for small businesses and family enterprises,” Carnell said. “Most importantly, reducing the company tax rate, addressing phoenixing, improving small business’ access to capital, making the Fair Work Act easier to navigate and implementing e-invoicing.”
The Cabinet’s plan is to reduce the company tax rate for SMEs to 25%.
Part of the Morrison Government’s plan is to bring the corporate tax rate down to 25% in the coming years. Cash told Fairfax Media that she is “in discussions” with the Prime Minister about a “a new, exciting, tax policy for small and medium businesses” – but the exact timeline for the proposed tax cuts is unconfirmed.
“I can’t give you anything more concrete than that,” Cash said. “We are committed to small and medium businesses and we are committed to policies that are going to help them grow, and certainly tax cuts are part of that policy mix.”
Some have raised questions about her partisanship.
While some small business groups have welcomed the return of the Small Business Minister role, not everyone is pleased by the announcement, including politicians on the other side of the aisle. Chris Bowen, small business opposition spokesman, said he was surprised to see Cash retained in the ministry. “Michaelia Cash’s track record suggest she’s more interested in partisanship than policy, and that’s not good for small business,” Bowen told the Sydney Morning Herald.
It’s still early days for Cash’s role in the Morrison Government, so it’s impossible to say whether the proposed tax cuts will have the intended impact. Small business owners should be prepared, however, for changes on the horizon. Keep checking back to our Business Hub, where we’ll follow Cash’s plan for small business in Australia as they develop.