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Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Page: 258


Ms CAMPBELL (3:53 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy. Will the minister advise the House of the response to the government’s Nation Building and Jobs Plan, in particular the initiatives that will benefit small business?


Dr EMERSON (Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy and Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation) —I thank the member for Bass for her question and for her ongoing support for the Business Enterprise Centre in Launceston and the small business community more generally. I can advise the House that the response of the small business community to the plan announced yesterday has been extremely positive. Indeed, the Council of Small Business of Australia described the plan as:

… a confidence boost for small business that will provide benefit to many small businesses and to the communities in which they live and operate.

We have heard from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia. What do they say? They describe it as, ‘A timely shot in the arm for small business.’ They say:

The $2.7 billion tax bonus—

that has been criticised by the coalition—

is an important and timely investment in the lifeblood of the Australian economy—small business.

The New South Wales Business Chamber has said that this is ‘a shot in the arm for the New South Wales economy’. It said:

New South Wales businesses will particularly welcome the $2.7 billion package of tax breaks for business.

What do we hear from the Master Builders Association of Australia? They have said:

The building industry is predominantly made up of small businesses which should benefit from the Government’s $2.7 billion Small Business and General Tax break …

The point they are making is that this is a plan for tradies. This is a plan for the tradespeople of Australia. As the Prime Minister said during question time and again this morning, ‘What have you got against the contractors and the tradespeople of Australia?’ You are supposed to be supporting small business—the tradies and the contractors—but you are opposing each and every one of these measures.

What do the National Farmers Federation have to say? In support of the package, they say:

Further, the $2.7 billion tax break for small businesses … will be greatly appreciated by those small family-owned farms.

Well, it would be appreciated if we could get the legislation through the parliament. The Restaurant and Catering Industry Association has said:

The small business tax break … may just be what our small businesses need to convince them to buy that new piece of equipment in the market.


Mr Ciobo interjecting

There you go, the member for Moncrieff! Very importantly, on the question of spending, it also said:

Consumers now spend nearly 10 per cent of their household income on meals out, on average, and these additional payments, which will come just prior to the next school holidays—

if we can get them through the parliament—

will be spent in restaurants and cafes.

So there is the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association. The fact is that the only critics of this plan are members of the opposition. The criticism was led last night by the former Treasurer, the member for Higgins, who formally began his campaign for the leadership yesterday and last night. Members of the opposition are always taking an each-way bet, a bob each way. I will bet that there is a very big chance—and I will back it on the nose—that the member for Higgins, the former Treasurer, will be the Leader of the Opposition by—


Mr Randall —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Realistically, how can this rant be relevant to the question asked?


The SPEAKER —The minister will respond to the question.


Dr EMERSON —I am responding to the decision of the opposition to oppose this package. The temporary opposition leader is condemning the Australian people to more hardship, to more job losses, to more people losing their homes and to more people losing their businesses. He is completely out of touch with the needs of the Australian people and he is completely out of touch with the needs of small business. I call on the Leader of the Opposition to put aside his personal short-term political interests to support the small business community of Australia, to support the Australian people and to support the Australian national interest by passing this package.