I was interviewed by a business magazine yesterday for a feature they are writing on small business software companies in Australia. Their first questions took me back to the software development scene in Australia in the 1980s. They were heady days with millions of dollars of money from State and Federal Governments sloshing around. Not at the small business end but certainly for the bigger players.

In Victoria in the 1980s we had the state government VEDC dolling out cash, chasing an IT future for the state. Last night, long after the interview, I struggled to recall one IT business still around today which was helped by the State Government cash. Maybe those of us from the time who are around today are here because we did not get the cursed cash and had to make it on our own.

This got me to thinking about business handouts. I hear the olive growers up in arms at the moment because they are losing their tax break in a year. My small business does more for the economy than any olive farm – we are creating new jobs and we are helping small businesses become more efficient and competitive. And we do this without a tax break. So why olives? Because some lobbyist got into the right ears I suspect.

Politicians ought not be able to hand out selective tax breaks and cheap or free cash to businesses. History, such as that of the 1980s in Victoria, has shown that wise decisions are rarely made and the cash is lost.

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