The uncertainty is over, and now the lobbying can begin. That is the message from Australia’s business community, which has welcomed the chance to work with Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s new minority Labor government and have already started pushing to a spot on the new political agenda.

But there are concerns that with Labor now focused on ensuring it can keep the government stable and functioning with independents and the Greens, SME issues could fall to one side.

Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told StartupSmart this morning that his organisation has struggled to establish a dialogue with Gillard since she came to office, and the organisation would focus more closely on getting the independents to push the SME agenda.

“When Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister, we got a much better hearing,” he said. “When Julia Gillard came in, we seemed to fall off the face of the earth as an issue. Her focus was big business and the unions, so our job now is to talk to the independents, as they are more focused on small businesses.

“Our job is to get small businesses back in the headlines and we will be having more meetings with ministers to help do this. In this election, I’d guess that 30% of small businesses voted for Labor, so I think we have a big influence on the election.”

Strong welcomed Labor’s commitment to the NBN, but said he was disappointed the Coalition’s plans to introduce a small business ombudsman and put the small business minster in Cabinet would now not move forward.

Everyone from the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Retailers Association and the Institute of Chartered Accountants has made a point of issuing a statement welcoming the new government and gently starting the lobbying process.

AIG’s Heather Ridout was perhaps the most aggressive, calling for the new government to “restore our flagging productivity growth, make further gains in workforce participation, build our business capabilities and equip ourselves to manage the structural pressures that are associated with the minerals boom”.

“Our recent reform efforts and policy execution have fallen short. The new government needs to develop a positive reform agenda and deliver it competently. This should focus equally on the processes through which reforms can be achieved and on the design of those reforms.”

At the top of the AIG’s agenda is skills development, encouraging innovation and reworking the R&D tax credit, and introducing flexibility into the Fair Work IR regime.

“While the ‘new politics’ will involve a much higher level of consultation in the Parliament, it is also critical that other stakeholders, including business, are fully engaged to achieve lasting advances,” Ridout said.

Gillard’s next major task is to select her ministry, which is likely to include Cabinet posts for independent Rob Oakeshott and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The SME community may also have a new small business minister, with reports suggesting Craig Emerson — who has been one of the more prominent Labor spokespeople over the past two weeks — could be in line for promotion to the post of finance minister vacated by the retiring Lindsay Tanner.

The ministry is expected to be announced early next week.