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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 315

Senator KROGER (4:48 PM) —I join my colleagues in speaking to the matter of public importance—that is, that the Gillard government’s failed budget strategy of debt and deficit is putting upward pressure on interest rates. I want to use this opportunity to highlight the fact that it is the coalition that truly understands the correlation between strong economic management and the vitality of the small business sector. It is this sector that is the engine room of the Australian economy and it deserves our practical support and incentive to grow, prosper and employ more people. This is in strong contrast to the platitudes and the rhetoric we continually hear from the government about their so-called management of the Australian economy, and which we have just listened to another mind-numbing 15 minutes of. In fact, it is those on the ground, the small business people who invest their family’s interest and, in so many instances, mortgage their homes to bankroll their businesses, who know otherwise.

Labor offers only more of the same indifference and disinterest that has seen a loss of 300,000 small business jobs since Labor was elected to government. Why is this? It is because on this side of the chamber we know and understand that out of control and escalating spending means increased interest rates. The more any government spends—and in the case of this government, it is expenditure where there is no idea of how to ensure value for money—the more it equates to significant upward pressure on monetary policy, directly impacting the bottom line for small business. It is small business that delivers just under half of the jobs in the Australian workforce—about 40 per cent of private sector economic output and more than one-third of Australia’s exports. Only the coalition recognises that a thriving small business sector is a key contributor to a prosperous Australia, to sustainable economic growth and to community vitality.

The ABS, in June 2006, estimated that there were 1,646,344 small business operators. Of these, 67 per cent worked full-time hours—full time, a definition that those in the union movement do not understand. For those of us who have worked in small business, the notion of a 35-hour week is laughable. I would suggest that those small business operators would work double that time.

Senator Cameron interjecting—

Senator KROGER —That is because the financial security of families running small businesses is at stake. They are at the coalface, and any significant economic changes will be immediately felt by these operators. Yet Labor is still making life more expensive for small business. Only this week the Prime Minister has formed a committee for sycophants—or should I call them ‘believers’—who are determined to bring forward a carbon tax and legislate it in this parliament. With energy being a significant input cost, this will immediately increase real costs without any productivity gains for those operators.

The bottom line is the chime of the cash register will be an endangered sound. In fact, small business will become an endangered species under the disgraceful and inept management of this Gillard government—a government that has runs on the board in this regard. The irresponsible approach taken by the government should be no surprise; as of the last government, only 12 senators on their side had any experience in small business. That compares to 50 per cent of them who have union backgrounds and are here through the grace of their factional allies and factional mates. They are here because of their affiliation with the union movement. In the interest of the country, the Gillard government should focus on the real issues concerning Australians rather than spend time on petty political point scoring in the other place.