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Wednesday, 10 May 2017
Page: 64


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaMinister for Small Business) (15:26): I see before me honourable members representing the Australian Labor Party but, more so, members who represent tens of thousands of small businesses in their electorates. I am sure that those members opposite will rue the day when they did not support the government's tax cuts to small business. I am sure they are going to rue the day because their small-business owners and operators will tell them how disappointed they are that Labor members did not want them to get access to that instant asset write-off. Yesterday was a milestone day in the history of this parliament. The tax rate for small businesses was lowered to 27½ per cent. The definition of a small business was redefined to include businesses with up to a $10 million turnover threshold. That is significant because it assists tens of thousands of small businesses, many of them in Labor electorates, where the members did not support those measures. How sad that was.

We just heard the Shadow Treasurer talk about the fact that budgets are about choices, and I agree with him. Last night, the Liberal-Nationals budget chose fairness, it chose opportunity and it chose security for all Australians—Australians in the cities and Australians in regional Australia. It is a plan for a brighter future, for more opportunities and to create more jobs and higher wages for Australians. It is a blueprint for success. The government is getting on with the job by creating new opportunities to secure Australia's future.

I listened very closely to the Treasurer's budget luncheon address today and he spoke about the government being focused on making the right decisions. He emphasised again and again the fact that this is a budget about getting things done. That is what he said. He was right of course. Our economic plan outlines a vision with a responsible and fair pathway to get Australia back on track whilst living within our means. When our economy is strong, our small businesses are strong. When our regions are strong, indeed, the nation is strong. When small business does well, there are more jobs, more opportunities and higher wages. That is why this government backs small business.

Our choices respect future taxpayers, as Australians expect us to, and our budget is on a path and projected to return to surplus in the 2020-21 financial year. We have quarantined the Future Fund, we have stopped borrowing for recurrent spending and we are making sure that taxpayers' money is invested in infrastructure assets—good assets and wise decisions. Our plan makes the right choices to build an Australia for our children and our children's children. I have heard the Prime Minister mention, on many occasions here at the dispatch box and in speeches right across the nation, our children and our children's children. We want them to have jobs, we want families to have security and we want small businesses leading the way. Small business is central to our plan—to the Treasurer's plan—for fairness, for opportunity and for security.

Small business, not government, creates local jobs and new opportunities. I have really appreciated the input that I have received from small businesses on my national small business roadshow, where I have been going around the countryside. I see the member for Boothby here. I had a fantastic small business roadshow forum in her electorate. We are off to the Sunshine Coast and the member for Fisher's electorate just next week. And I am very much looking forward to going to more electorates or even indeed to some Labor electorates not only to talk to small business owners but, more importantly, to hear what owner operators are saying about our vision for success, our vision for the future because the lowering of the company tax rate and the additional access to the instant asset write-off have been welcomed. They are cheering in the streets of the member for Shortland's electorate today, I am sure, about those measures.

Every day more than 5.6 million Australians wake up and go to work in one of our country's 3.2 million small businesses. Small business employs almost half the workforce. That makes a big impact on the economy. It generates $380 billion worth of economic growth and GDP—how good is that? That is why we have delivered tax cuts for small business and a budget which backs small business owners. While those opposite stood in the way, unfortunately—and they will rue the day they did that—I have been across the country to hear first-hand from small business owners and operators in more than 40 communities in 24 electorates just in recent weeks, in the parliamentary recess. I have seen the hard work and the pride of Australians in their small businesses. I have heard their plans for the future. I have heard their ideas. There are some remarkable stories, some truly innovative stories. They tell me that the tax cuts are going to provide more money in their pockets. What business small-business owners do is they generally reinvest in their business. They hire that young Australian; they hire that older Australian; they put on that apprentice, that trainee. They tell me that it also allows them to pursue their ideas to grow and expand their operations. I have no doubt that they are telling me the absolute truth because they want to succeed. They want to hire more people. They want to be on the pathway to success. They want to have jobs there for their children and for their children's children. Indeed, in these communities, I also heard how the instant asset write-off is helping small business owners upgrade and purchase new equipment. I have heard how it helps provide the necessary building blocks to support small businesses to grow and expand. Here is a quote:

It helped immensely. It was necessary for us to produce good food for staff morale and it actually was a chain reaction.

That is what Alana Laliotitis told me of the impact of her small business's new equipment thanks to the instant asset write-off that she utilised. 'It increased efficiency; it increased customers.' They are her words, not mine. Alana runs a successful Greek restaurant in Parramatta with her husband, Peter—they are great folk. They have very good food, very good coffee—I recommend them. I visited that small business with the defence minister Senator Marise Payne. As any Australian in any small business knows, Alana told me that the instant asset write-off helps her get through the busy days. She said that Mother's Day was her biggest day. She said that without the capital equipment that she bought, she just did not know how she would have got through Mother's Day.

This will help small business owners invest in their business, improve productivity and expand their horizons. As I stand at this dispatch box today, I look out over this side of parliament and I can see many of my colleagues who understand small business because they have filled out a business activity statement. They have run a small business. Through the sweat of their own endeavours, they have taken a risk and they have backed themselves. I do see people who, like me, have filled out a BAS. From 1 July, the BAS is going to be simplified. Instead of having seven areas, it is only going to have three—GST on sales, GST on purchases, total sales—so we are simplifying what the BAS is. We are getting on with cutting red tape, cutting compliance. We are making sure that we are listening to businesses and acting on what they want, what they expect and what they demand. The budget last night did just that.

That is why we also know that small businesses do not stop at a $2 million turnover. When in question time today the Prime Minister was annunciating how good a policy this is—effusively and confidently and optimistically as the Prime Minister always is about small business—some Labor member yelled out, 'You are supporting rich people.' Some of these people are not rich people. Just because you might be turning over $5½ million in your business, it does not mean to say that you are 'a rich person' as the Labor member from the back yelled out scornfully in question time. Sometimes, these small business owners and operators take home less pay than the workers they employ. Just because you might have a turnover which goes up and down each and every month, you still have to pay the employee. You still have to pay them the wage.

When a small business gets the impetus that we gave them last night in the budget through the Treasury legislation amendments yesterday, they get on with the job of backing themselves, they take even further risks and they make sure that they try to turn a profit, because they want to succeed. It is in their best interest to succeed. That is why these many small businesses and family enterprises want to succeed. It is fair and reasonable.

The budget has already made sure that we are going to cut through even more red tape. We have cut through $5.8 billion in red tape, smashing our initial target of achieving a billion dollars in cuts to red tape annually. But we know there is more work to do. That is why we are getting on with the job. That is why I was so pleased that Treasurer Scott Morrison's budget last night backed small business all the way. I am so delighted with the tax cuts for small business. I am so delighted about the instant asset write-off. It was a fantastic budget. (Time expired)