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Tuesday, 16 September 2003
Page: 20145

Mr RANDALL (3:20 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Small Business and Tourism. Would the minister advise the House how the Australian government is seeking to protect small businesses when they become the innocent victims of unlawful secondary boycotts? Is the minister aware of any obstacles to the protection of small businesses?

Mr Martin Ferguson —Are you colourblind, Joe?

Mr HOCKEY (Minister for Small Business and Tourism) —What have you got against my green tie? Why does the Labor Party hate the Irish? I thank the member for Canning for his question.

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Batman is not charged with determining the sartorial elegance of all members of the chamber—fortunately. The minister has the call.

Mr HOCKEY —Standing here, I wish I was colourblind! I note that the member for Canning has asked me more questions about small business in one month than the Labor Party has asked me in two years. What a surprise, given the fact that every time small business comes up in this parliament the Labor Party opposes any initiative to help small business. That could not be more plainly the truth than when it comes to unlawful secondary boycotts. On four separate occasions the Labor Party has been presented with the opportunity to help small businesses have the full protection of the ACCC when they are the innocent victims of an unlawful secondary boycott. On every occasion the Labor Party has voted with its trade union mates instead of with small business.

That is on top of the fact that we are trying to help small businesses get away from the unfair dismissal laws, as they stand ready to create up to 50,000 jobs immediately. The Labor Party on 18 separate occasions has voted against helping small business. People will say: `Why is this the case? Why is the Labor Party so determined to help trade unions instead of small business?' We need go no further than our old friend the member for Brand—we remember him on this side of the House—who said that Labor has never pretended to be a party for small business.

Government member—Shame!

Mr HOCKEY —Damn right; it is a shame. But we know who pulls the strings when it comes to small business and the Labor Party, and that is their mates in the trade union movement. There were no more profound words than those from Nick Lewocki, the NSW state secretary of the public transport union. He said it all when he said:

How many small business people stood on polling booths or letter-boxed for the ALP ... How many small businesses pay a percentage of their profits to the ALP? Not many. It's our party and if they don't want to be part of it, they should leave.

Over the course of the last two years, there have been some lonely voices in the Labor Party that have tried to stand up for small business and have been smothered. The member for Barton said that we needed more small business people involved in the Labor Party, the member for Werriwa at one stage said we needed more small businesses involved in the Labor Party, and, of course, the member for Hunter was once an advocate for small businesses, particularly those in his electorate. But as soon as someone in the Labor Party decides to try to give small business a fair go they get a response from the trade union movement. Only recently the member for Hunter, who was challenged in his preselection, had to contend with the fact that the trade union movement was saying that the member for Hunter in some way was a defender of small business. After he won his preselection—with my personal endorsement—the CFMEU northern district vice-president Mick Watson said, `I don't think Mr Fitzgibbon should be too smug.' We believe that only the coalition parties are truly prepared to stand up for small business. Every time the Labor Party is given a chance it votes down small business in favour of its trade union mates.