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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 736

Small Business


Mr RAMSEY (GreyGovernment Whip) (14:56): My question is to the Minister for Small Business. With the minister update the House on action the government is taking to protect small businesses from the impact of unreliable and expensive electricity? What hurdles stand in the way of achieving energy security for hardworking Australian businesses?


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaMinister for Small Business) (14:56): I thank the member for Grey for his very important question. We have heard in this question time today, from the Prime Minister as well as from the Minister for the Environment and Energy, how this federal government will take the ideology out of the energy debate and give South Australian small business the certainty it deserves and the affordable energy it needs. The member for Grey and I have spoken many times about how important small business is. He is a passionate South Australian. He represents 90 per cent—90 per cent—of the geographic area of his state. There are 11,884 small businesses in the member for Grey's electorate. Those small businesses expect—they deserve—that when they flick the switch, the power will come on.

Energy security is vital for small business. The members for Grey, for Barker, for Boothby and for Sturt know just how essential it is for small businesses to have the power at their fingertips—not just when the wind blows, not just when the sun shines, but every single minute of every single day. City or country, coastal or inland, there are lights and fridges which need to be switched on, cash registers, EFTPOS machines, computers and other technology, on which small businesses rely. Small businesses deserve an affordable baseload power on which they can rely, just like the communities which rely upon them. When the farms and family businesses of Grey and the rest of South Australia were plunged into darkness again last Wednesday—for the eighth time, I might add, in recent months—South Australian small business was left counting the cost of picking up the tab: fridges and freezers left to defrost, thousands of dollars of stock now destined for the dump. For a couple of McDonald's outlets employing 150 people, many of them young people, their energy costs have gone up—almost doubled—by $50,000 each. This is in the member for Grey's electorate. And this is even after the owner spent capital on trying to reduce power usage. Another one employs 90 people, an annual payroll of $1.2 million: their electricity bill increased 59 per cent, year-on-year, January to January. Sadly—unfortunately—the Labor energy policy is: 'Would you like a blackout with that?' The Labor Party's federal shadow minister, the member for Port Adelaide, the national president of the ALP no less, called it a hiccup. Tell that to the small businesses in South Australia! Little regard for perished produce, few mentions of failing technology; just one sorry blame game by the South Australian Labor government and by its twin here in Canberra. The policies of those opposite, just like their leader, are unrelia-Bill.