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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13634

Mr LYONS (Bass) (16:08): I rise today in the House to speak to the motion on the impact of increased taxes on small business. The Gillard Labor government understands the important contribution small businesses make to national prosperity and to supporting jobs. Small business owners take a risk in undertaking new ventures on their own. They work hard to achieve commercial success and deserve support for their entrepreneurship, which contributes so much to the economy and provides so many jobs for Australians. Federal Labor is committed to supporting Australia's small businesses as the global economy recovers so that they can grow to their full potential and continue their immense contribution to Australian prosperity and job creation.

Last night was a big moment in Australian history. The MRRT is a great big win for small business. The government will support Australian jobs and use the mining tax to give a tax cut to every Australian small business. This will help keep unemployment low and ensure more Australians are coming home with a pay cheque every week. I am sure this move will be welcomed by the business community and by those looking for work. I look forward to talking to local businesses in my electorate about this. This builds on the Gillard Labor government's record of creating 750,000 new jobs, low unemployment, and sound financial management.

Our tax package, funded by the proceeds of the MRRT, will give small businesses tax relief, a cash-flow boost and a strong incentive to invest in productive assets and grow jobs. From 1 July next year, small businesses will be able to claim an instant write-off of assets valued up to $6,500, boosting cash flow and removing the need to apply different depreciation schedules. The instant asset write-off is not a cap; it applies to each asset a business buys that is under $6,500.

As a big supporter of small business, I welcome the Gillard Labor government's plan to offer a big tax cut to every small business. We are giving a big tax cut to 2.7 million small businesses—many of them struggling in our patchwork economy. The government recognises the important contribution small businesses make to national prosperity and to creating jobs—and these tax cuts will help them continue to grow and prosper.

Yet those on the other side of the chamber last night voted to rip out major tax relief for 2.7 million Australian small businesses. Mining profits have increased more than 260 per cent over the past decade. BHP's latest annual profit of around $23 billion is almost four times the profit of the country's former highest earners, the banks. We are giving a business tax cut to all Australian businesses, including those that are not in the mining boom fast lane. That will help keep unemployment low, which means more Australians coming home with a pay cheque to look after their families. Every cent raised through the MRRT will be returned to business and the community through tax cuts. This is an important point that often has been lost in the heat of this debate. This is an unprecedented support package proposed by the Labor government that, if the opposition really cared about small business, they would have supported last night instead of sleeping through the whole debate.

This package comes on top of the government's other measure to allow small businesses to write off the first $5,000 on any new motor vehicle purchased from 1 July next year. This landmark tax break will have a significant impact on the cash flow of many thousands of small businesses. It will help many of them to invest in new equipment, which will help improve productivity and provide a boost to the national economy. The new arrangements will also reduce red tape for small businesses, as they will not have to deal with as many depreciation schedules or track the depreciation on so many assets.

Small businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy, providing jobs and adding to our national prosperity. Federal Labor has implemented a number of policies to help Australia's small businesses prosper. We invested $42 million in small business advice and support through small business advisory services located in suburban, rural and regional Australia. We simplified the BAS, business activity statement, and other reporting requirements for small business by implementing standard business reporting for around 70 per cent of small businesses. We created a superannuation clearing house so small businesses can pay their employees' superannuation contributions electronically to Medicare, which distributes the money to employees' chosen super funds free of charge. We helped small businesses go online by providing $14 million to 47 successful applicants to improve their e-commerce capabilities, enabling them to take up the new opportunities offered by the National Broadband Network. We established a permanent voice for small business in the ACCC, through the appointment of a new Small Business Commissioner. The Australian economy continues to outperform other advanced economies. Despite the impact of natural disasters, our economic fundamentals remain strong and our outlook is bright. The government has a clear plan to maximise the opportunities of an economy in transition.

Small businesses make a significant contribution to the Australian economy, accounting for almost half of industry employment and contributing over a third of industry value in 2009-10. We are working with them to support jobs. Small businesses are often the first to feel the effects of an economic downturn and the last to emerge. Federal Labor recognised that helping small business through the global recession was critical to the economy.

An important measure was support for local tradies and the small businesses that supply them, through the Gillard Labor government's Nation Building-Economic Stimulus Plan, for work on schools, housing, roads and local infrastructure projects. Yet those opposite turn up to the openings but vote against these jobs. They did not support business when they really needed it.

The marginal rate of tax was 67c when I started work and it is now 45c. The fact is: no-one likes paying tax, but we need revenue for services. The Liberals, when they were in power, were the highest-taxing government in Australia's history.

We are working hard on freeing up small business owners' time to allow them to get on with the job and making it easier to deal with government. With 2.4 million small businesses operating in Australia, the Gillard Labor government recognises that small business is the backbone of the Australian economy.

Federal Labor will continue to support small business owners to ensure their entrepreneurship continues to contribute to national prosperity and job creation. That is why we have released a tax plan for our future, which will provide tax breaks and reduce red tape for all small businesses. The MRRT is a great opportunity for this country, and those opposite are on the wrong side of history.

Labor is keeping the economy strong and building a great economic future for all Australians. Only Labor has a plan to keep the whole economy strong—not just the mining sector—a modern economy ready for the future that will create new jobs and new opportunities with no person and no place left behind.