Treasurer and MP for North Sydney, Joe Hockey, took the time to lay out the new Government's approach to getting SMBs digital, as his constituency was crowned Google's 2013 eTown.
Google crowned North Sydney as its eTown for 2013 at an event at local business Form + Design. Google's award celebrates the cities and regions that make the best use of the web to connect with customers and grow.
Hockey praised the local SMBs in attendance, and their use of the Web to stretch their business models beyond the community, and even internationally.
"The industry is changing through the Web. We can either be victims of change, or beneficiaries of change," he said.
"Our businesses can't afford to be inert victims, we need to move with the times. That's why we've made SMBs a new Treasury portfolio. Bruce Wilson is our minister for SMBs, and we will have some new initiatives to announce soon."
Hockey told attendees that the new Abbott government is already working closely as 'a strong advocate' of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and is in the process of reforming Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). The Coalition is already looking at building a tighter relationship with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to collect better data and reform red tape as constituents have "been screaming about the paperwork."
The government has also pledged to change tax legislation to make changes to help SMBs.
Google Australia MD, Maile Carnegie, agreed small businesses are not just a community backbone, but the engine room of the Australia economy - and something Google wants to help acknowledge.
"They employ more than 5 million people - that’s almost half of Australia’s jobs, and they generate more than $500bn in revenue - a third of Australia’s economic activity," she said.
"So it’s really, really important this engine room is cranking. Especially when, as a nation, our productivity isn’t growing as quickly as we need it to."
The company did research with Deloitte to determine the differences between the Web have-nots and the Web savvy small businesses. Either way, the potential for the channel is huge.
"We found out small businesses that make the most of the web grow two times faster than those that don’t. They earn two times more revenue per employee, they’re four times more likely to be hiring. Quite simply, the web is rocket fuel for small businesses."
She took the time to praise Form + Design, a local shop that now sells more online in Melbourne and Perth than it does locally.
"Twenty years ago, reaching a national audience just wasn’t possible for small business - they didn’t have the big dollars required to advertise on TV or the radio. Today, the Web has levelled the playing field. In some cases, it’s even turning local businesses into exporters," she said.
Google has pledged to to train 2000 people to become 'Web experts' to reach about 250,000 small businesses to help them become web enabled and take their revenue to the next level. Carnegie said that digital engagement increases revenues by 20 per cent for SMBs - a huge opportunity for the Channel.
"Despite the obvious benefits, one third of small business don’t use the internet to reach customers at all," she said.
North Sydney beat out other finalists: Cockburn in West Australia; Darwin, NT; Holdfast Bay in South Australia; Launceston, Tasmania; Port Phillip in Victoria; South Canberra; and the Sunshine Coast.
Martin Ells received the award on behalf of the North Sydney mayor, Jilly Gibson.