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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1101

Small Business

Mr WHITELEY (Braddon) (14:44): Thank you, Madam Speaker. It is a bit rich him talking about betrayal. My question is to the Minister for Small Business. Will the minister advise the House how the government is backing small business in my electorate of Braddon and elsewhere across the country?

Mr BILLSON (DunkleyMinister for Small Business) (14:44): I thank the member for Braddon. He does a fantastic job representing the 6,755 small businesses in his electorate. Congratulations for that work. He, along with many Tasmanian members, was very happy when we were pleased to announce $1.4 million in funding for business advisory services in Tasmania to be delivered in and largely from the member's electorate. This is part of our $18 million Australian Small Business Advisory Services Program. It aims to improve the capacity of established, successful and effective not-for-profit small business service program deliverers and to get behind the enterprise we see in small business and family enterprises. It is about providing low-cost advisory and information services to help these businesses build their business, make the most of their team, work out funding opportunities and understand their finances, and it is about digital engagement and getting the most out of the digital economy—just like those tourism operators I was pleased to meet with the member for Braddon at the House of Anvers in Latrobe. It is a chance for them to walk in and get that support to build their businesses and the jobs that they create.

Across the economy, getting the right conditions for our small business is the focus of this government. Let us look at progress so far. We have abolished the carbon tax—great news for small business. There is over $2 billion of red tape reduction—again, great news for small business. We have reformed the national franchising code. There are the trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea—opening the door to hundreds of millions of new prospective customers. We are working hard to fix the damage that Labor caused to employee share schemes and getting a framework in place for crowd-source equity funding.

The Prime Minister has highlighted how jobs in small business are key priorities for this government. As part of the budget, we will deliver a small business package which will include a 1.5 per cent, at least, reduction in the company tax rate for small businesses. All of this is contributing to improving the trading and business conditions that we saw under the previous government. Yet we saw this Leader of the Opposition standing in front of cameras in Melbourne spreading mistruths when he said, 'We have business confidence at an all-time low.' That is dead wrong. Here are the facts for the Leader of the Opposition. The record low for business confidence was under Labor—another Labor legacy; a dubious honour. The latest National Australia Bank quarterly business confidence index is in positive territory, as it was all the way through 2014. So what is Labor on about? Are they trying to create an economic anxiety climate? Are they a wet blanket on optimism? Are they poisoning the green shoots of our economy? While Labor are trying to strike fear into the economy and enterprising Australians, we are getting on with the job of getting the right conditions to recover some of the 519,000 jobs lost under Labor. We are getting on with the work; you are just trying to frighten people.