Shorten pitch to small business
Talking business: Bill Shorten. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Bill Shorten has made a major pitch at broadening Labor's electoral appeal, unveiling a plan to greatly relieve small business pestered by unnecessary paperwork.

In an interview with _The West Australian _ ahead of Saturday's Senate re-run election, the Opposition Leader outlined a three-pronged strategy to give small businesses more time to chase profits.

Under the plan, businesses with turnovers of less than $2 million would be allowed to fill out business activity statements annually, rather than quarterly.

Micro-businesses and small start-ups with much smaller turnovers would be largely freed from red tape with simple "four-line" reporting requirements on tax returns.

And thirdly, some small and micro-businesses would be able to average their income over periods of up to five years, in the same way that farmers and sportspeople account for cyclical or seasonal revenues.

Mr Shorten said his plan was unashamedly part of a longer-term, pragmatic repositioning of the ALP, saying while Labor should be always proud of its historic union links, it needed to modernise, too.

"This is about building a broader constituency for Labor - there are plenty of small businesses doing it tough who're taken for granted by the Liberals," he said.

"Clearly, as the mining boom has been easing, we need to reinvigorate the opportunities for small business, the engine room for jobs in the WA economy.

"We won't do that through rhetoric and statements of intent but actual concrete ideas."

Labor will seek advice from the Council of Small Business of Australia and accountancy experts before finalising some of the details, including what constitutes a micro-business on turnover.

About 60 per cent of the 2.1 million Australian businesses have a turnover of less than $200,000. Just 3 per cent of Australian firms have more than 20 employees on their payrolls.

Council chief executive Peter Strong said he was delighted by Labor's focus on his sector. "It's not just the words that are important, it's getting down to the nitty gritty," Mr Strong said. "Importantly, what is good for big business is not always good for small business."

ALP polling predicts the party will secure two of the six Senate seats up for grabs on Saturday, but Mr Shorten said turnout would be critical to Labor's fortunes.

Whatever the result, he said he was determined to rebuild trust in the Federal Labor brand, damaged in WA by the torrid Rudd-Gillard years and the heated debate over the mining tax.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will spend an extra day in Perth because of the visit of his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak, who is heading to the city to thank defence officials involved in the search for missing aircraft MH370.

The West Australian

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