Interview for Brisbane Times, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (31 May 2016)

Interview for Brisbane Times, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (31 May 2016)

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I need to say up front that this article is not exactly as I stated in the interview and some things are slightly out of context, but the essence is there. MK

Senate candidate Michael Kaff believes in self-esteem through small business

Getting started is one of the key barriers to entrepreneurship in Australia.

  • Bhakthi Puvanenthiran

While many businesses celebrated the news of tax relief in the Federal Budget, one Queensland Senate candidate and small business advocate wants more to encourage entrepreneurship.

Gold Coast man Michael Kaff, who ran an accounting firm and has more recently taught small business skills at TAFE is campaigning for governments to provide interest-free loans to small business.

Queensland's Michael Kaff
Queensland's Michael Kaff 

"For mum and dad businesses that want to start up, a company tax cut does nothing," he said.

"When I moved to the Gold Coast, I couldn't find work and I was a sole parent, so I know what it's like to to be trying to make it work on next to nothing even having been a professional.

"This isn't about gifts or grants, it's about about giving people, especially young people, who aren't asset rich or cash rich the ability to actually make something of themselves."

Kaff acknowledges such a move would not be popular with banks.

"The fact is that banks won't lend someone without assets or securities money. Or if they will it will be at a ridiculous interest rate. A bank can only worry about the bottom line. So the government has to step in."

Kaff, who taught small business management at TAFE for a decade believes such a program could give people dignity and self-esteem.

"I can't tell you how many times I've had to give someone a hug as part of my mentoring and teaching and tell them "you'll be right". We think it's all about money and dollars and finance, but the reality is lots of people are struggling to survive and contribute and they feel like noone cares about them," he said.

"There's a lot of hurt out there, there's a lot of people giving up."

Kaff also believes such a program would be able to bring together baby boomers who have skills but are phasing out of the economy with younger people who are struggling to get work.

Part of his plan is a focus on the arts as business.

"A lot of people think arts aren't important, they never get treated as a serious issue. But where does creativity come from in our culture? Where does innovation happen?"

Kaff, who himself has been involved in amateur theatre, points to arts organisations who work with people with disabilities as an example of "fiscal responsibility with social conscience".

"We need holistic solutions to the problems in our economy," he said.

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