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Tuesday, 11 October 1983
Page: 1595

Mr SHIPTON(10.31) —Before the adjournment motion was put I was saying that the estimates that we are considering this evening are contained in a public sector Budget that gives growth to the bureaucracy and to the government sector while it squeezes the private sector, private enterprise and initiative and accordingly, squeezes the small business sector even further. On top of that there is a 4.3 per cent cost increase following the wage case which was supported by the Government. The Government, through its lump sum superannuation proposal, has again attacked the small business sector. It is the small business man and woman and the employees of those businesses who have to bear the burden of the Government's initiative. We have seen the Government introduce, again and again, retrospective capital gains taxes that propose new taxes on companies in the corporate sector. We have seen the prescribed payments legislation introduced. We have seen the enormous administrative shambles that has been created by that legislation. It is putting enormous paper and administrative burdens on many small companies in Australia today. The Government, in its implementation of those proposals, shows that it does not understand private enterprise or how the private sector and small business works. We have seen the $1,000 dividend rebate withdrawn. Again we have seen a tax on the private enterprise system and on small business. The Government has done absolutely nothing for small business. It admitted the error of its ways when we discussed the Economic Planning Advisory Council Bill. It accepted an Opposition amendment that the Council include a small business representative.

Let us look at what the Government says it has done in relation to the Australian Industry Development Corporation. It said that more money will be available for small business. I want to refer to a statement made by the AIDC Chief Executive who said:

. . . the removal of the exemption from withholding tax had cut off AIDC's access to some international money markets 'where direct bank borrowings until recently provided AIDC with attractively priced funds for Australian industry'.

On the one hand the Government says it is widening the powers of the AIDC and making more money available to it, claiming that this is a great initiative for small and medium size businesses in Australia but, on the other hand, it has introduced legislation which the head of the AIDC, Mr Thomas, said will leave the AIDC with fewer funds available to small businesses.

Mr John Brown —Where did you get that from?

Mr SHIPTON —The Minister should read this morning's Melbourne Age. It is all there for him. Again the Government is acting in a way inimical to the interests of the small business sector. So much for the AIDC. In relation to the new management investment companies that have been announced by the Minister for Science and Technology (Mr Barry Jones) and the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Button), I quote from a Press release by the Australian Small Business Association. It welcomed the announcement but said:

We are now asking the Government to widen the industries covered by the scheme.

It did this because the scheme does not apply to small business. The Association said that small business investment companies or venture capital companies had failed in Australia through lack of tax incentive. It stated:

As a result small business has no mini merchant banks they can turn to for equity investment, loans, other financial services and advice.

Let us look at what some industry organisations that represent small business say about the Budget Estimates, and that part of the Budget which we are considering tonight. The President of the Australian Chamber of Commerce, Mr Ken Court, stated:

The total lack of incentive for small business--

that is, in the Budget-

is particularly disappointing.

The Australian Small Business Association, with regard to the Budget, stated:

Since the Labor Government was elected it has by a series of actions in the mini-Budget and the present Federal Budget, withdrawn $515 million from the small business and private investment community.

The Association referred to the loss of the tax break on family income sharing which was referred to in the mini-Budget; the loss of rebate on dividends, to which I referred earlier, at a cost of $100m; the uplift on the provisional tax rate from 10 per cent to 11 per cent; and the money to be gathered in by the prescribed payments system. In regard to the Budget, the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia stated:

Small business is quite justifiably most disappointed and disillusioned at the Government's failure to introduce any of the many elements of its Action Program for small business in the budget context.

It is obvious that the Government does not understand the small business community. It is obvious that the Government does not understand how small business works in this country. It does not understand that small business is vital for the growth of this nation. It does not understand that small business is big business; that it is only through the growth of the small business sector that jobs will be created. The larger corporate sector, in which hopefully some expansion will occur in the future-I do not predict it under this Government-has lost its capacity to take on employees. Large companies are shedding labour. We saw evidence of it this week when General Motors-Holden's Ltd shed some 900 people from its work force at Acacia Ridge in Queensland. Large companies are shedding functional departments and they are rationalising. They are being merged and taken over. It is only through the small business sector, which has proved it can bring about a net gain in employment in the community, that we can expect growth.

We must create a climate for the creation of wealth. We must encourage profit- making. Those are things that must be focused on. This Government does not do so in the Budget. We need to focus on the needs and problems facing the small business community. We must look at the problems of the sole trader, the self- employed, the entrepreneur and small companies in Australia today. I have proposed in this place on another occasion-I repeat it again-that it is essential that the Government designate 1984 as the year of small business in Australia so that we can focus our attention on the needs of this vital and important sector of the economy; so that policies can be developed and put in place to meet its needs; so that the climate can be created for a healthy, prosperous, vital, growing small business sector. By designating 1984 as the year of small business, government and the bureaucracy would be forced to listen to, and hopefully understand the nature of, the problems of small business and would help create a greater understanding of policies for its needs.

The small business sector is the key to the survival of the private enterprise system. It is the key to the survival of our way of life. It is only through the small business sector that we will achieve growth. Small business is the key to economic recovery. It is the key to expanding employment and to adapting to technological change. The year of small business that I have advocated in this place time and again-the Government has deaf ears to my call-would help to encourage small business in Australia today. I call on the Minister and the Government to meet this call.