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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6784

Dr HENDY (Eden-Monaro) (10:10): Eden-Monaro is a rural electorate and it depends heavily on small business as an employer in the region. In fact, in regional Australia, after you go past schools and government agencies providing services in rural towns, it is the private sector in terms of the small business community that is the principal employer. We have recently come into government. We have unemployment problems across the Eden-Monaro region. For example, in the Eurobodalla Shire we have an unemployment rate that is above seven per cent, which is way above the national average. Indeed, part of that problem is people employed by small businesses have lost their jobs. We are seeing that across regional towns in the Eurobodalla, Bega Valley, Bombala, Cooma-Monaro and Palerang shires in particular.

Minister, I understand that across the nation some 519,000 jobs were lost in small business over the last six years, which is a very distressing fact. The government is putting in place an economic action strategy that I understand will help secure some one million jobs in the next five years and potentially two million jobs in the next 10 years. Part of that will be the abolition of the carbon tax. I was in Cooma last week and visited a florist. When people talk about the carbon tax they do not often think about florists, but they were very significantly hit by the carbon tax because refrigeration is a very important part of the work of a florist. They were urging me to ensure that the carbon tax was abolished in this term of parliament.

I want to understand your comments with respect to the carbon tax abolition and the importance that has for small business right across the Australian nation. The other thing I want you to potentially make some remarks on is the significant review of competition policy that has been announced by the government and is being funded in the current budget. Can you give us an explanation of the progress of that competition review? Indeed, I also note in the Treasury portfolio that funding will be there also for changes to the franchising code of conduct, which is another very important thing for a number of small businesses in my electorate. Minister, I pitch you those questions and I look forward to the answers.