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Wednesday, 21 August 1996
Page: 3393


Mrs DE-ANNE KELLY —My question is addressed to the Minister for Science and Technology acting on behalf of the Minister for Small Business and Consumer Affairs. Given that small business is the engine room for growth and job creation, what are the benefits in this 9.9 out of 10 budget for small business? How will that help create jobs for young people? I might say that the budget has been extremely well received in my division. Does the 9.9 out of 10 budget deliver a fair go for small business?


Mr McGAURAN —I thank the honourable member for Dawson for her question. She has in common with every single member of the Liberal and National parties a commitment and an unwavering support for small business. That is why after the budget of last night we can say with a great deal of pride that small business has a fresh start. After 13 years of being treated as second-class citizens, small business will assume a pre-eminent role in the national economy under this government.

What honourable members opposite never understood is that it is not an economy driven by fabricated government programs; it is an economy driven by individuals and small companies. All you ever did was market programs. You would repackage, rebadge, refund and remarket programs all to no effect—One Nation, Working Nation and on and on. You have never understood small business, otherwise you would have tackled the government budget deficit a long time ago so as to bring down interest rates. Small business has borrowed $46 billion from the banks, so interest rates are critical to its capacity to reinvest, to grow, to make profits and to employ people. Your irresponsible fiscal policy crippled many small businesses.

We have kept our election commitment in regard to the provisional tax uplift factor to reduce it to six per cent. That will inject $180 million into the small business sector. We have kept our election commitment to allow small businesses to defer capital gains tax arising from the sale of their businesses. Your government refused to do this. Again, you have never understood the fact that the assets of a small business are often the only resources small businesses have to fund a new business or their own retirement.

We have stopped—and this has hardly received recognition publicly, let alone from that side—the very contentious tax law No. 5 which was introduced by the previous government. It would have changed the status of subcontractors creating a horrendous and expensive, not to mention time wasting, burden on small business.

There are many other initiatives in the budget last night which will support small businesses. Our industrial relations package will scrap the unfair dismissal provisions and establish a more flexible labour market. There are incentive payments targeted at small businesses to encourage them to take on apprentices and trainees. Our small business deregulation task force, which will report on 1 November, will set out for us how to improve our already impressive reduction in the paperwork burden on small business.

It is finally dawning on the Labor Party, after 13 years of destruction of small business, that they have to do something. We have today a report of a leaked document from Senator Peter Cook, shadow minister for commerce and small business. It was tabled at the Perth meeting a few weeks ago. He said:

Small business see the industrial relations system as one devised by big companies, big government and big unions. They feel left out. They support the repeal of unfair dismissal laws, worry about unions' rights of access provisions and feel vulnerable in secondary boycott cases.

What is the member for Hotham and the member for Batman, former heads of the ACTU which created this situation, going to do in regard to Senator Cook's recommendations? We wait to see your reaction. Small business and everyone in this parliament should not hold their breath waiting for those two to agree to Senator Cook's logical reforms which we are actually implementing. You are a bunch of frauds. You're not going to learn anything in opposition that you didn't learn in government. Small business will support this government.