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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 3242


Mr GOSLING (Solomon) (12:48): by leave—I join the chair in thanking all those that have contributed to this inquiry, a very important inquiry into the impact on our local businesses in Australia from global internet based competition. I want to thank all those that came and gave us their time, their ideas and their thoughts on how we need to prepare for these challenges and what government's role needs to be. In particular, I want to mention Mr Mitchell, the member for Lyons; and Peter Khalil, who supported me in my role as the deputy chair in contributing, with our colleagues from the opposite side, to putting together what I think is an important report. I also want to quickly acknowledge the previous chair, Ms Landry.

The impacts on local businesses are many and varied. It's important that we support small businesses in particular. That's why it's great that the committee has recommended the establishment of a grants program to assist Australian small businesses to take advantage of the opportunities because, whilst there might be challenges in this space from these behemoths, these international global giants, like Amazon, there are also many opportunities. We've recommended that the government fund small business to take advantage of those opportunities. Education materials have also been recommended to assist small business understand the risks and benefits of these emerging digital technologies.

The committee also believes it's important to share the stories of Australian companies and the way they are adapting in this space and doing well. So, to lead by example, I want to quickly mention some people from the Territory and promote their story. Injalak Arts produce fantastic products from the largely Aboriginal community of Gunbalanya. Injalak Arts sell their products through Etsy and regularly receive orders from all over the world, including from as far afield as remote areas of Myanmar, so you've got remote areas in the Northern Territory selling products through the internet to remote areas of Myanmar. There are truly incredible opportunities. They are remote but the internet has levelled the playing field somewhat for them.

Another example is in Darwin, in my electorate—Injalak Arts at Gunbalanya is in the member for Lingiari's electorate. In Darwin some young Territorians have started up an online earring business called Frunky. Marketing for Frunky is conducted primarily through Instagram and sales are made through their website. They're looking to expand their product range shortly. Our committee has promoted the telling of these stories. These are just two from the Northern Territory, and there are many others.

With the advances in marketing through these platforms there truly are great opportunities for small businesses. However, the committee also heard disturbing stories—from the Hotels Association for one and the Booksellers Association for another—about the possibly damaging levels of market power. The committee has, as the chair discussed, recommended that, in light of the potential for digital platforms to act in anticompetitive ways, future reform of competition law would be a good thing to do.

We've heard about the disruption of online businesses, but we also need to focus our mind on adaptation. We must change and adapt and we must help our businesses do the same. That's why we've recommended the creation of a digital retraining fund. The workforce is so important in this space. Workforce is the next big challenge in STEM. I want to recommend to the government something that is not in the report: instead of giving $17 billion to the banks out of your corporate tax plans, how about we put that into education so that our kids in the future can adapt and can get the jobs that are going to be required to be all that we can be as an economy and as a people by using the internet and using the global online marketplace? Workforce is a big challenge and we need to do more.

I again want to thank my fellow members of the committee on that inquiry. I look forward to finding out when we next meet what our committee will turn its mind to next. There are some great recommendations in the report. I recommend it to everyone. We must adapt to stay competitive in this new global scene. I also commend this report to the House.