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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 61

Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaMinister for Small Business) (15:45): I invite the member for Perth to look around him. We are in the federal parliament. We are not in the Western Australian parliament. That would have been a great stump speech if you were a candidate for the Western Australian election coming up on 11 March, but we are in the Commonwealth parliament, the Parliament of Australia. I did not hear many mentions of the federal government. All we heard was a speech condemning the Western Australian government. I cannot understand it. It was his big moment to lead the matter of public importance, and he failed. He failed because all he wanted to talk about was Western Australia. I appreciate it is his home state and I appreciate there is an election coming up, but we are on this side of the Nullarbor. We are not in Perth.

Go anywhere outside this building—outside this federal parliamentary building—and you will hear it. Go anywhere outside this building and you will see it. It is the heartbeat which drives the nation, the sound of ambition and drive. It is the sound of success. It is the hard work of Australia's 2.1 million small businesses.

Mr Conroy interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: The member for Shortland gets it. He understands. From the inland to the coast, in the cities and the suburbs, it is a sector which strives every day to better the lives of Australians, to create more jobs and to provide the goods and services that Australians—whether they live regionally or in the capital cities—demand, expect and deserve. And we are a government—a federal government, Member for Perth—which understands how inextricable the bond between success and small business is.

Today we are here to talk about the interests of local workers and consumers. The member for Perth might have forgotten that. He wrote the line but forgot to prosecute the argument. Surprising from a barrister, but he forgot to prosecute the argument! We are here to reflect on the findings of soundings taken over summer, and that is why I am pleased to talk up exactly what this federal government has done, and will continue to do, to create jobs and opportunities for Australians and to see small business soar.

Mr Husic interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Coulton ): The member for Chifley will sit in silence.

Mr McCORMACK: Australia's small businesses number around 2.1 million. They provide an economic boost of $340 billion to our economy. They are as diverse a tapestry as the topography of our country itself. Some are run by families, some by friends and some by those who have found a purpose and a meaning in the jobs and services they are providing. But in each of them is the spirit of small business. In each of them—

An opposition member interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: You can make out as if you have got a violin. You would not know. The only small businesses you like are those which you would like to run a picket line out the front of. That is the trouble with you.

Unlike the Labor Party's, ours is an economic plan which is costed. It is an economic plan which is considered. It is an economic plan which actually makes sense. It has got a vision further out than just the daily headlines that those opposite react to. It is a 10-year economic plan, the Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan. Its most central consideration is this: it is small business, and not government, which creates jobs. It is small business, and not government, which provides goods and services. It is small business, and not government, which will see higher wages—we all want that—and more opportunities for Australians.

To this government, jobs are not the stuff of glossy brochures. They are the stuff of families. They are the stuff of communities. They are a story which varies by location, and they need a champion who is committed to their creation—and that is what we are. This government—this federal government, Member for Perth—is a champion for small business and business right across this nation.

On the table today is our Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan: a vision for a decade, not just the fly-by-night things that you people bring into this House, that you people dream up after you read the daily headlines. It is a plan which will provide 90,000 more small businesses across this nation with the opportunity to get that lowering of the company tax rate. It is a plan which provides for 90,000 more small businesses to get access to the instant asset write-off. But there is a roadblock in the way of those great small businesses—those in the electorate of Cowper, those in the electorate of Capricornia. Right throughout Australia there is a roadblock, and that is the ALP, led by the member for Maribyrnong, who stands for higher energy costs to small businesses, who stands for and is beholden only to the unions.

More than anything, our Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan will mean that Australia's small businesses can grow more and can employ more—and, dare I say, if they are able to hire more people, some of them might even be union members. Some of them might even vote for the Labor Party! That is what we are doing: providing jobs, providing hope and providing rewards for those small businesses which want to get ahead. What small businesses do is invest back into their small business. They invest back into their company. They enhance their business. They deliver the most effective of economic injections, empowering their own livelihoods and their own needs to get ahead in life.

Those opposite come in here and lecture about the fact that they supposedly care for consumers—I did not hear that word in the member for Perth's MPI—but, as for the support that they offer for small businesses, when push comes to shove: Labor does not trust small business to spend its own money. That is the bottom line. But we in the coalition do. We want to provide more money for those small businesses so that they can generate more jobs. We know that tax cuts for small businesses deliver more jobs, higher wages, better services and expanded opportunities, for a few simple reasons: because we have run our own—successful ones, too, I might add. We have taken risks. We have employed people. We know, from our own experience, that local workers will get a better opportunity from local businesses which are empowered to employ them. We know, from our own experience, that local consumers will be better catered for by local businesses empowered to take risks, to branch out and to pursue a new opportunity. We know this because we listen. We consult. We spend time in our local small business community, and we actually listen to what they have to say.

I have listened to businesses everywhere, including the electorate of Cowper—and I am looking forward to going to your electorate very soon, Deputy Speaker Coulton, to hear from the small businesses in your community, and I would love to go and talk to those in the member for Rankin's seat and to hear what they have to say: to hear the fact that they want to get behind a lowering of the company tax rate, to hear that more of them want to take advantage of the instant asset write-off.

Dr Chalmers interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: I have been to every state and territory to talk to small businesses. It is more important, member for Rankin, to listen to those small businesses. I went there alongside the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive, James Pearson, and that organisation's president, Terry Wetherall. That is where I met people such as Rohan Jewellers in Western Australia, in the member for Perth's electorate. With a turnover between $2 million and $10 million, that jewellery shop has been in operation for nine years. It employs 12 people including casuals. Its owner, Rohan Milne, told me of his plan to grow and expand and of how a reduction in the company tax rate and access to the coalition's crucial instant asset write-off program would benefit him and help him to achieve his dream.

Like millions of small businesses right across the country and the five million Australians they employ—many of whom are union members—Rohan Milne knows a turnover of more than $2 million is not a big business. It is the engine room of our economy. And I have a little note to Labor: just because you might be generating anywhere between $2 million and $10 million in turnover does not mean to say that that is what you are putting in your pocket as take-home; it does not mean to say that that is profit. You people seem to think that a company with a turnover of $5 million is in clover, and all you want to do is whack them.

We know on this side that our 10-year enterprise tax plan will work. And do you know why? It is because it is backed by small business. It is backed by small businesses right across this wide brown land. Because protection for our workers in small business is central to our economic plan, we are getting out and we are listening to them. Ours is an economic plan which actually understands the economy. It is a plan that wants to see the economy grow and pay back some of Labor's debt and put more Australians into jobs with opportunities for their children and their children's children. It is a plan about confidence. Whether you are in a capital city like Perth or whether you are in a regional community like Dubbo or somewhere like Warialda, the area you represent, Mr Deputy Speaker, or wherever, it gives small business the confidence to grow, the confidence to employ more people and the confidence to take a risk with their own money—not with union money, but with your own money. It is a plan that is already working.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: Listen to them go! You mention the word 'unions' and you get them going. You get them almost jumping out of their seats, because they are beholden to unions. You are self-owned subsidiaries of the union movement, and that is the trouble. Get on board with small business! Do not worry too much about what the leftie unions are telling you. The leftie unions will just take you down a path of higher energy prices and of doing all those things like stop-work meetings. Get on board with small business! Back our 10-year enterprise tax plan. Back the instant asset write-off. Get on board with those companies that are employing Australians, creating employment, creating jobs, creating opportunity, and stop being a roadblock to this great economic plan.