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Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Page: 10580

Mr IRONS (4:06 PM) —The Belmont Small Business Association will be presenting its annual awards tomorrow night in my electorate of Swan. The manager of the BEC in Belmont is Carol Hanlon, who also is a councillor of the City of Belmont. Carol won an award in Melbourne recently for the best Australian BEC manager. Carol has also been nominated for the 2008 annual Diversity at Work award to be announced in Melbourne by Sir Bob Geldof. I wish her well with that award as well.

Another small business association that operates in my electorate, and has its state head office near my office, is the Armadale Chamber of Commerce. This association is headed up by CEO Charles Bellow, and his wife, Shirley, runs the office on a day-to-day basis. Two of the Bellow’s children work for the chamber as well. Both Sarah and Charles Jr will, I am sure, go on to support local business in my electorate for a long time into the future.

The local chamber also runs annual awards for successful and innovative businesses in Western Australia. These awards are recognition of the hardworking average Australians who usually put everything on the line to start their business—and then some more—in the true Australian entrepreneurial spirit of having a go. The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines small businesses as those employing fewer than 20 people. According to this definition there are 12,800 small businesses in my electorate of Swan. This represents a significant proportion of the Australian population that small businesses benefit in electorates like mine. Small business is a major employer in Australia and is a driver of many community groups in Swan through volunteer work and sponsorship. It is these small business people, who are in the community supporting these groups 24/7 for 365 days a year, who need to be recognised for the work they do in supporting our local communities.

As members will be aware, I have a long history of association with small business. I have owned my own small business for the last 25 years, and I was appointed as the state vice president of the local chamber of commerce and industry for a year prior to my election to this place. I am concerned on a number of fronts for small business at the moment. Business confidence has been steadily falling since the Rudd government came to power a year ago. I spoke with the patron of the local chamber today, Mr Keith Ellis, and he was disappointed with the strategies of the Rudd government. He said a lot of small businesses were not going to invest any more capital into their businesses due to the uncertainty caused by the Rudd government’s strategies.

This was also confirmed by the BEC manager, Carol Hanlon, in the Southern Gazette, saying that small businesses are hurting. Today’s monthly business survey and the economic outlook from the National Australia Bank show that business confidence fell a record 21 points in October to a new record low of minus 29 points on the NAB index.

The individual tax management plans announced in the policy are not a new initiative. The individual tax management plans are ordinary conventions for small businesses that are experiencing cash flow problems, and these were announced in the government’s small business rescue package. The additional $4 million for the Business Enterprise Centres is negligible, given that the Rudd government axed nearly $1 billion of small business support programs, including the successful small business field officer advisory service and the Commercial Ready program.

In conclusion, the Rudd government’s mishandling of the financial crisis is having severe ramifications for small business confidence in my electorate. Kevin Rudd’s media opportunities are doing little to help the situation. (Time expired)