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Thursday, 25 November 1999
Page: 12697

Ms ROXON —My question is to the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business. Are you aware that, contrary to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs report, Charter of Public Service in a culturally diverse society , the Australian Taxation Office is not intending to translate the GST registration and information kits for use by small business? Minister, how will a measly $200 adequately cover the GST implementation costs to thou sands of ethnic small businesses—many in my electorate—when these businesses will be forced to seek additional advice at considerable extra cost?

Mr REITH (Workplace Relations and Small Business) —I am not sure about the assertion that the member made at the start of her question. I thought we were providing quite a lot of material in a range of languages.

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hunter was not asked the question.

Mr REITH —I will be happy to have that checked and will advise the honourable member in due course. In terms of the voucher, the whole idea of it is to provide assistance but it is particularly directed to ensuring that small business avails itself of the wide range of information, training and other measures necessary to assist in the transition. The GST Assistance Office is seeking registrations of interests from suppliers so that we have an idea of the extent of discounts that will be available to small businesses as they exercise the voucher that is being made available to them. So what you are going to get is a leveraging up effect of the voucher, thereby enhancing the value of it for small business operators. When we took advice from the Small Business Consultative Committee on this issue, contrary to the misleading statements made by your shadow minister, the committee actually said that a voucher idea—

Mr Fitzgibbon —Why don't you release the report.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hunter is deliberately defying the chair and I warn him.

Mr REITH —The Small Business Consultative Committee said that the money has its role, but the really important thing for small business is to have a range of information, education and training programs made available. That is what we have done. As I say, we have leveraged that up in a sense using the voucher, and I was very pleased to see in the Yellow Pages index, I think it was, that came out this week that we are seeing a lot of small business people now turning their minds to implementation. Obviously, you would expect that, but it was a very high figure. I do urge small businesses to focus on this issue. I know they have Y2K and Christmas and everything else coming up, but it is wise to get in early and get on top of the issue. We are very keen as a government, through all the organisations that we are assisting, to ensure that they do have quality information available to them.

Mr Fitzgibbon —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Minister for small business should be required to authenticate his claims with respect to the Small Business Consultative Committee's report and should do so by releasing it.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Hunter will resume his seat.