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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 784

Small Business


Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (14:32): My question is to the Minister for Small Business, Senator Arbib. Could the minister please outline to the Senate what the Labor government is doing to support people in small business? In particular, what does a strong economy mean for small businesses?


Senator ARBIB (New South WalesAssistant Treasurer, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Sport and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:32): I thank Senator Sterle for his ongoing interest in supporting the small business people of Australia. The best way to support small business in this country is to have a strong economy and that is exactly what Labor is delivering. When you look at the international ratings across the board, all three ratings agencies, for the first time in this country's history, have given this country a AAA credit rating—something never achieved under the coalition in all their years under Prime Minister Howard.

Look at inflation: contained. Look at economic growth rate, with a three in front of it. It is something that economies across the globe are envious of. We are moving forward. We are growing. Other economies are going backwards. Some in Europe are on the verge of default. At the same time, look at the unemployment rate in this country: 5.1 per cent in January. Forty six thousand jobs were created. Since we came to office: 700,000 jobs have been created. This is the Australian economy that Labor provides and this is the greatest benefit to small business.

Everything this government has done has been about supporting small business. During the global recession we acted to support small business, protecting 200,000 jobs. The stimulus package was about small business and about infrastructure to allow small businesses—tradespeople, electricians, plumbers and apprentices—to keep in work. It worked. On the other side of the chamber the Liberal Party and National Party senators walked into this chamber and voted against small business. They voted against the stimulus package that kept people employed and the multiplier effects that kept small businesses operating during that period. That is the record of the Liberal Party of this country. (Time expired)


Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (14:34): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister please outline to the Senate the government's small business agenda; in particular, can he outline what measures the government is introducing this year to support the growth of small businesses?


Senator ARBIB (New South WalesAssistant Treasurer, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Sport and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:34): As I have said, we have a strong economy, but at the same time as that we need to support businesses with their cash flow. That is what the minerals resource rent tax is about: assisting small business.

Those on the other side—those Liberal Party and National Party senators—have said already they will vote against the tax of the biggest miners, billionaires. The people who will pay are Australia's small businesses because the major beneficiaries of this tax are our small businesses. They will benefit from greater infrastructure and greater productivity through increased road and rail funding. They will also benefit from direct tax cuts that start on 1 July. But there will not just be a cut to the company tax rate; they will also benefit by an accelerated depreciation schedule, which will mean that they will be able to write off assets up to $6,500. The instant asset write-off is going to help the cash flow of small businesses. (Time expired)


Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (14:35): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister please outline to the Senate what the government is doing to cut red tape for small businesses?


Senator ARBIB (New South WalesAssistant Treasurer, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Sport and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:36): We have been working with the states, unlike the coalition, who in their period played the blame game and did not work with the states. We have worked with states to try and develop a seamless national economy, with 36 reforms to reduce the regulatory burden on business. I am happy to say that one of these reforms is to implement the new national business names registration system later this year. It is on track to deliver major benefits to small business. At present, the average small business will be up for around $1,000 for three years. This will come down from $1,000 to $70—massive benefits for small business.

On superannuation, we have put in place a superannuation clearing house to make it easier for small business to pay their employees superannuation. Since launching on 1 July 2010—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order!

Senator ARBIB: Fifty thousand payments have been made already, and small businesses are benefiting. That is the record of this Labor government. (Time expired)