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Thursday, 30 March 2017
Page: 3887

Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaMinister for Small Business) (15:54): I would advise the opposition leader to go and have a Bex and a lie down, because we have just heard 10 minutes of yelling—angry; rattled. Member for Maribyrnong: fair dinkum! I mean, anyone watching would be wondering what on earth they just listened to. They would be wondering: 'What on earth was he talking about?' All he did was rant and rave for 10 minutes. Ordinary Australians are people the opposition leader would have you believe he is sticking up for—ordinary Australians; mums and dads; those who work hard to get ahead—

Opposition members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Coulton ): Could members on my left, please, if you are leaving, leave quietly, and if you are staying, remain quiet.

Mr McCORMACK: Or they could just go and have another yelling session with the opposition leader. As I was saying, the member for Maribyrnong, this opposition leader, reckons he is the champion of ordinary Australians—unless, of course, they run a small business. The Leader of the Opposition said a lot today about how he, apparently, cares. But he left out one critical sector which drives one of the greatest contributions to the Australian economy. Just as he does every day, he forgot those ordinary, everyday Australians in small business—those ordinary Australians who run 2.1 million small businesses and employ almost five million ordinary, everyday Australians.

Every day in this country, ordinary Australians wake up and they go to work in small businesses, building the economy and creating jobs. Every day, those ordinary Australians take risks. We heard the Prime Minister in question time today talk about those risk-takers. He talked about their enterprise. He talked about the need for investment. He talked about small businesses. But we never hear too much from the opposition leader about small businesses. Every day this government is backing those small businesses. Those opposite have no plan for ordinary Australians, because there is one key thing about our economy they simply do not understand—

Mr Brian Mitchell: Do you support pay cuts or not?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Lyons is out of his place and is disorderly; he will be removed if he continues.

Mr McCORMACK: It is business not government which creates jobs. Our economy needs more people in work. It needs cities and towns, big and small, with opportunities for jobs and investment, whether it is metropolitan Australia, the outer suburbs, or regional, rural or remote Australia. The answer is small business. That is something that this government understands. We back small business because we know what it is like to run one. We back small business because we know what it is like to employ people. We back small business because we know that that is the sector which will make this economy grow.

Today, of all days—the second-last sitting day; it was to be the last, but we are coming back tomorrow—we want to deliver those ordinary Australians in small business a tax cut. Those opposite could make it really simple. They could have got on board with our plan. They could have got on board with our policies. But oh no! Typical obstructionists: they stood in the way—a roadblock to, a handbrake on, small business and the tax cut that they tell me that they desperately, seriously need, want, deserve, demand and expect.

Long before I spoke in here of the need for tax cuts in small business, I understood the issue personally. Unlike so many of those who sit on the opposition benches, to me a plan for small business is not theory. It is not something I have used as a pawn in my lifelong game of politics. It is not something on which I have written a book; it is something I have actually experienced. I ran my own small business—a family-run publishing company in Wagga Wagga—for eight years. And those opposite might like to know that, before that, I worked on a newspaper where I was actually a member of a union for 21 years. So I understand the balance. But those opposite get all too consumed with unionism. They get all too consumed with taking the little backhanded pays.

More than anything, I know what it is like to take a risk. That risk-taking spirit is why the government has a focus on small business, because it is not a small ask of anyone to take a risk and start a business. It is not a small ask. But there are millions of ordinary Australians who do, and there are millions more who will do just that if they are given half a chance. We are here to champion them. We are here to be their advocate.

Mr Hart interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: I can't hear you; you're too far up the back! Today in Australia, no matter your location, your income or your background, the spark of an idea and the energy to work hard can start an international sensation—and it happens. I have seen it. I have been to forums where there were hardworking women who had an idea around the kitchen table. They focus-grouped it, and now they are globally exporting all manner of things. Today in Australia, there is an ability for those people in small business to take the risk and to back themselves, and we want to back them as well. We want to back their vision, but those opposite stand in the way.

The best support for an ordinary Australian is a job. We heard the Prime Minister say it today: almost five million jobs in Australia come from small business. Whether it is in the electorate of Lyons or the electorate of McEwen, those people want to be backed. They want to create the opportunity for their kids and their kids' kids, and for them to understand that their parents had a go. I am on a nationwide small business roadshow at the moment. I went to the electorates of the member for Mackellar and the member for Brisbane—he had 150 people turn up. He understands small business—a great retailer. He gets what we are trying to do; I just wish those opposite did. I have met with some wonderful, ordinary, everyday Australians who understand why they need a tax cut. I met them in Brisbane, and I am looking forward to going to Western Australia to visit the electorate of the member for Durack. One of the people I met along the way was Andrew Kaigg from Nomadic Cafe in High Street, Berwick, with the member for La Trobe. He is a good member. When we were talking about our tax plan and our tax cut for small business Andrew said that that would be 'awesome'. He is an inspiration. He has this coffee shop. He could not understand why Labor and those opposite are standing in the way. He just could not get it. He is absolutely right. Ours is a plan backed by small businesses. Here is what some of them say, in their own words:

Defining small enterprises as those with turnover under $2 million a year is seriously out of step with the rest of the world and significantly limits Australia's potential.

That was said by John Pollaers, who is the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council chairman. Another said:

I'm confused why they're doing it. The $10 million threshold picks up so many small businesses, and it's like they want us to stay small. At the moment, I'm not sure what Labor are doing with small business.

That was from Peter Strong, the chief executive of the Council of Small Business Australia. And another:

The idea that the definition of a small business should be limited to those with a $2 million turnover is quite frankly outdated; there are many mum-and-dad operated small businesses around the country that are turning over well in excess of that figure, but they are by no means a 'big' business.

That is from Kate Carnell, who is the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

Mr Rob Mitchell: An independent voice!

Mr McCORMACK: At least she knows how to run a small business. At least she knows what it takes to back herself. At least she knows what it is like to take a risk. I do not know whether you have taken too many risks, but you have probably picketed out a few businesses with your union mates. And that is the problem with those opposite: they do not want to get on board with our tax plan. Oh, here we go! The member for McEwen—this will be good.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The member for McEwen on a point of order?

Mr Rob Mitchell: Perhaps the minister, in his outrageous, spittle-filled rant, might want to actually refer through the chair, as he is supposed to.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for McEwen may raise the point. The minister will refer his comments through the chair.

Mr McCORMACK: James Pearson, Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce, said:

We look to our government and our Parliament to show leadership and make it easier, not harder, for business to get on with the job.

Andrew Conway, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Public Accountants, said:

Despite Labor’s opposition, we support the government proceeding with the bill and continue pragmatic negotiations to ensure it passes.

So, all of those people know that when small business is strong so too is our economy. This is something those opposite used to understand, but they now simply stand in the way. I do not get why they want to stand in the way, but I would love to see them come on board on this day of days, when they could actually get on board. I look forward to seeing the tax plan pass through parliament tomorrow. When the opposition leader, the same man who just railed against tax cuts, actually had to make decisions and actually had to stand for something—when the Labor Party was in government—he said:

Any student of Australian business and economic history since the mid-80s knows that part of Australia's success was derived through the reduction in the company tax rate. We need to be able to make life easier for Australian business, which employs two in every three Australians.

He said that. It is actually four out of five, but we will forgive him for that. When he was in government, the member for Maribyrnong also spoke about 'reducing the corporate tax rate, seeing more capital flow into our domestic economy, which will then flow onto workers in the form of higher wages, thereby improving standards of living'. That is what the member for Maribyrnong said when he was in government. I do not know why he does not back us now. After all, he does have 12,951 small businesses in his electorate. It is time he backed them, and it is time he backed the 2.1 million small businesses across the nation.