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Monday, 9 May 1994
Page: 409

Senator DENMAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Small Business, Customs and Construction. I refer to a report which appeared in today's Herald-Sun newspaper regarding a survey of participation of women in small business. The article refers to a comprehensive study which is about to be undertaken into women who own their own businesses. Is the minister able to confirm the details in the media report? What information can the minister provide about the aims and scopes of the study?

Senator SCHACHT —I am aware—

  Senator Kemp interjecting

The PRESIDENT —Order, Senator Kemp.

Senator Collins —See if you can get Torrens into this answer, Chris, and someone over there will ring a bell again.

Senator SCHACHT —It is difficult, I must confess, to get the outstanding result of the Torrens by-election in Adelaide into this answer, but if opposition senators provoke me I will certainly try.

  The report in the press is not quite accurate, but I confirm that there have been good discussions and negotiations between my department and the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women regarding the proposed study. I expect those negotiations to be completed soon. It is intended that the study will be a joint project between my department and the association and will involve surveying 1,500 women business owners throughout Australia, and as a control group we will survey 500 small male business owners as well.

Senator Ferguson —What about big males?

Senator SCHACHT —The proposed study aims to determine what is unique about women-owned businesses and in particular it will seek to obtain information about the management characteristics of successful innovative female-owned firms. Senator Ferguson's levity is noted on this matter. However, I would point out to him that there are some very encouraging signs in the small business community that women are developing small businesses at a much greater rate than men.

  Despite those initial figures, we do not have enough information to show other characteristics of successful small businesswomen. We believe that once we get that information it will be very useful to provide it to the small business community, and for women in particular. This is an area that has practical application, not just for women in business but in the creation of jobs. As we all know, it is the small business community that is providing the biggest job growth in the Australian economy at present, and will do so through the rest of the decade. Also it shows that we believe women in small business proportionally will provide more jobs than men in small business.

Senator Gareth Evans —Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.