Labor has raised concerns the government’s new small business roadshow program has so far overwhelmingly visited Coalition-held seats, suggesting Coalition voters are being rewarded with better access to services.
Of the first 30-odd roadshow events held since the program started on 20 February, at least 27 were in Liberal or National seats, just two in Labor seats and one in Indi, which is held by an independent, according to a Labor analysis of small business minister Michael McCormack’s media releases and other public statements.
According to the releases, checked by Guardian Australia, McCormack was accompanied by local Liberal and National MPs or senators, even when he attended Cathy McGowan’s seat of Indi and Labor-held seats Parramatta and Greenway.
Coalition electorates visited included the marginal seats La Trobe, Corangamite, Bonner, Petrie, Bowman, Gilmore, Hinkler, Forde and Fisher.
The roadshows are used to get feedback from small business but also to spruik government policy. In one event listing for a roadshow forum on 6 April, the Corangamite MP, Sarah Henderson, boasted of the government’s small business tax cuts for 16,920 local businesses.
Henderson also accused Labor of having “no plan for job creation and no play for growing the economy”, alongside an invitation to local business owners to meet her and McCormack at the official event.
McCormack attends the events with senior staff from agencies including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and the Australian Tax Office.
At Senate estimates on Tuesday, the Treasury’s small business division head, Patrick Boneham, said the roadshow events were organised by the small business minister’s office and not the Treasury.
He said he believed government agencies paid their own way to attend and McCormack would attend using his budget.
The shadow small business minister, Katy Gallagher, asked if it was a…