19 July 2007 | Paul Snell
The leader of Australia's opposition party has pledged to help small businesses win government contracts if he becomes the next prime minister.
Kevin Rudd, leader of the Australian Labor Party, told the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia: "If elected, I will start helping small businesses by looking in my own backyard - government procurement.
"Every year, government procurement is a $26 billion (£11 billion) business and I believe small businesses should be encouraged to gain a greater share of it."
Rudd added public sector departments in Australia are often inflexible toward businesses, despite their significant buying power. He claimed public sector contracts were often more onerous and expensive for small businesses than similar contracts in the private sector.
He promised an external review of the country's procurement policies if his party wins power in the general election later this year. The review would recommend reforms to reduce red tape on low and medium-value contracts.