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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 3769

Small Business

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (15:07): My question is to the Minister for Housing, Minister for Homelessness and Minister for Small Business. How will government policies like tax breaks support small businesses and help them to thrive and grow? What support has small business expressed for these measures, and what are the challenges for small business that need to be addressed?

Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (GortonMinister for Housing, Minister for Homelessness and Minister for Small Business) (15:07): I thank the member for Page for her question and her long association with small business. Indeed, she has over 11,000 small businesses in her own electorate. I also thank her for her advocacy for the small business commissioner, something that we have responded to in recent times.

The Gillard government, of course, is committed to helping Australia's 2.7 million small businesses around the country. We are helping them in a number of very important ways. Firstly, there is the reduction in the company tax rate from 30c in the dollar to 29c. Secondly, there are the income tax rates from 1 July for those unincorporated small business owners, who will receive an increase because of the increase in the tax threshold to $18,200. Indeed, I might add that there is also an increase for those who can receive personal tax cuts, if they are an employee of their own company, and also receive the company tax cut. There is the $5,000 write-off for vehicles and the $6½ thousand instant asset tax write-off for assets purchased in that financial year, which is very important. It provides cash flow solutions to problems that may occur from time to time, particularly for microbusinesses, sole traders—those small companies that really need some assistance.

I might add, in relation to the question that was asked earlier by the member for Goldstein, in relation to the $6,500 instant asset tax write-off, that that is for each asset purchased under $6,500, not just one asset, so there could be multiple assets. So this is a great boon for small businesses around the country. It can only be done, of course, because we have enacted the minerals resource rent tax—

Mr Hockey interjecting

The SPEAKER: The honourable member for North Sydney will remain silent.

Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR: which will allow us to distribute the mineral wealth around the country, providing opportunity for small businesses, particularly those—

Mr Hockey interjecting

The SPEAKER: The honourable member North Sydney will remove himself from the chamber under the provisions of standing order 94(a). I asked that he remain silent; he did not.

The member for North Sydney then left the chamber.

Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR: This is a very important support for businesses, particularly in sectors like tourism and manufacturing that are confronted with challenges including the high Australian dollar.

I know small businesses are astounded that the opposition has not supported this initiative. One of those is Derek Stewart from Queanbeyan Diesel Service, just down the road from here—indeed, so close that the Leader of the Opposition went there last year to do a media opportunity. Mr Stewart was quoted in the Australian today, and he said he was concerned that the Leader of the Opposition 'missed the bus' when it came to tax cuts for small business. Well, Mr Speaker, he has missed the bus. I am sure he would not miss Clive Palmer's jet, but he did miss the bus. The fact is that we will continue to—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. I call the honourable member for Kooyong—

Ms Gillard: Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER: I called the member for Kooyong, Prime Minister, because I saw him first.