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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1109

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (10:56): I rise today as the newly re-elected member for Mitchell to declare my service over the next three years for the small and medium business sector in my electorate of Mitchell. In Mitchell we have about 6,000 small and medium enterprises already making a great contribution. Since the election and the return of a government which takes seriously the role of small business in our economy—small and family owned enterprises—it has been great to see a Prime Minister who opened our return to government with the statement, 'Australia is open for business once again.'

It is so important the government understands the vital role that the small and medium enterprise plays in the Australian story, because the last government certainly did not understand it, with 21,000 new regulations and with a carbon tax which punished small and medium businesses more than any other sector. If you were a big business in my electorate you received a handout or compensation but, if you were a small struggling family business or a medium enterprise, you got nothing. You had to groan under the burden of increased electricity prices and increased prices for services and goods such as refrigerant gases for use in your small business. If you were a drycleaner you had to just wear the extra charges and costs associated with the deliberate policy of putting up the price of energy for every productive business in the country. That is why the Liberal Party was formed: to stand up for the small and medium enterprise, the self-employed people all around our country—those people who could not and did not have a voice in government. We know there are millions of them out there today. There are 6,000 small and medium enterprises in my electorate and I am very proud of all of them.

This week, as part of the Shop Small campaign, I will be going to a small business in my electorate, Shelton's Quality Meats, a great family owned enterprise, like so many in our country. The Shop Small campaign is a fabulous initiative, ensuring that Australians do not miss the importance of the small business sector and reminding them of the great value of the goods and services, the quality of those businesses and the things they do for our economy. We are helping small business at the moment with a root-and-branch review of the competition laws. The terms of reference will be coming out at Christmas and I fully support a review of the competition laws in Australia, given the state that we have reached. We want to make sure that confidence and competitiveness become the byword, the watchword, for the economy, especially for those small and medium businesses throughout the economy.

If we are allowed to remove the carbon tax, as per the wishes of the Australian people, we will reduce the electricity prices, the input costs, that go into these businesses and that make it so difficult. There are so many things that we cannot do. We cannot lower wages in Australia and we cannot do things that make it harder for people to purchase goods and services—that means increased costs—but we can address input costs. One of the input costs is the carbon tax, lifting the price of that critical input cost on every small and medium business in the country.

Shelton's Quality Meats is a great family owned business, operating in the Castle Mall since 1980. Two generations have worked in this business. I would be proud to serve over the counter of this great local butcher, with two generations of family who have operated this business, Ron Shelton and his three sons. One son is working for the current proprietor, Matthew Wright, who continues the fine work of the Shelton family in serving our community.

Like so many small businesses, and this is the key to it, they form the backbone of the community in Mitchell. They give to charity; they are part of their community; they donate to the local schools; they help local youth leadership forums. They do those things without any hope of return other than boosting confidence and sense of community and being good business citizens and neighbours. They provide meat trays for raffles for all kinds of charities and have done so for many years. I thank them for it. That great entrepreneurial spirit—the ability of someone to start up their own enterprise, to make a go of it and to succeed—that is what Australia is all about. Ever since I arrived in this place, it has become too hard to start a business and make a go of it in Australia. It is too hard to compete, and that is because of the burden of government legislation and regulation that oppresses people trying to do to new things. We must have less regulation and we need ease of entry for new players in small and medium enterprise. It is great that we now have a government that understands Australia is open for business—and not just big business, but for those small and medium enterprises. There are thousands in my electorate and millions across Australia who provide so much of the economic ingenuity, the horsepower of employment and do great things for our community. I want to thank Shelton's Quality Meats; I am looking forward to serving over the butcher's counter tomorrow, meeting citizens in Castle Hill. I want to congratulate their family on two generations of business success.