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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3907

Mrs JOHNSTON(10.55 p.m.) —The coalition recognises that small business is the engine room of the Australian economy. We also recognise that it is small business that employs the majority of Australians.

Following the budget announcement of incentives to help Australia's small businesses, I sent a survey out to all the small and medium sized businesses in my electorate of Canning. The response to date has been phenomenal. In the survey I asked small businesses:

If you could fix any problem to help your business or create jobs what would it be?

Mr Acting Speaker, the response from these small business owners was always the same. They have said to me, `Fix Labor's unfair dismissal laws.' `Reduce the level of taxation on small business.' `Reduce the amount of paperwork we have to complete.' `Reform the industrial relations system.' And, `Let's have a look at the level of commercial interest rates.' The response I have had from these small business owners shows that the coalition government is on the right track. Our budget and other policy announcements address all of these issues.

The government has already met its commitment to reduce the provisional tax uplift factor to six per cent. This means that small business is no longer assessed for the provisional tax on income in excess of what it has earned. This is a major benefit to small business and how it operates. This alone will deliver $180 million back to provisional taxpayers in 1996-97.  The capital gains tax rollover relief that was announced in the budget will allow small businesses to rollover their business assets without capital gains tax disincentives.

As the Treasurer (Mr Costello) mentioned in his budget speech, many small businesses plough all of their hard-earned savings into their business which is both their livelihood and a plan for their retirement. The coalition government has recognised this and allowed individuals to claim an exemption from the capital gains tax up to a minimum capital gain of $500,000 on the sale of a small business where the proceeds are used for retirement.

This government's industrial relations reforms currently before the parliament will rectify Labor's job-destroying unfair dismissal laws. The sooner the people in the upper house recognise the necessity to pass this legislation the sooner small businesses can get on with the business of employing people and creating real jobs. This coalition government has done more for Australia's small businesses in the mere six months it has been in office than the Australian Labor Party did in its 13 years in government. Being a small business operator myself, I know precisely what I am talking about.

We are a government that respects small business. We are a government that knows just how hard small business operators have to work. We are a government that wants small business to succeed because we know—unlike those opposite—that it is small business that keeps this country going. We know that it is small business that employs the majority of Australians. We know that it is small business that takes on the majority of young people either under an apprenticeship scheme or some other form of training program. This government is committed to encouraging the small business sector and to ensuring that it gets on and creates a livelihood for all Australians.