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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 57

Mr ZAPPIA (6:04 PM) —For the Leader of the Opposition to come into the House today with this matter of public importance is the height of hypocrisy given that, in the face of a global financial crisis, nothing but nothing could have threatened job security more so than the unfair Work Choices legislation that the Howard government, in which the opposition leader was a minister, imposed on the working people of Australia. The Australian people will see through this pretentious concern about jobs coming from the Leader of the Opposition.

The Rudd government, on the contrary, has been investing in jobs from the moment it came into office, and if time permits I will certainly go through all of the areas where the Rudd government has made those investments. The announcement today by the Rudd government of its $42 billion investment in a Nation Building and Jobs Plan is an unprecedented response to deal with unprecedented times. It is a package that includes $2.7 billion as a tax break package for businesses, a package that will provide real assistance to small business in Australia and sustain jobs in the small business sector. Let us not forget that the small business sector is the engine room for jobs in this country. It is a major employment sector, employing some 3.8 million people, many of those in my electorate of Makin. It is not only a major employment sector but also the one sector that, through support from the government, will certainly make a difference to how well we ride out the global financial crisis that we face.

Let me talk for a moment about the small business tax break that was announced by the government today. Under the business tax break, small business can claim an additional 30 per cent tax deduction for assets costing $1,000 or more acquired from 13 December 2008 to 30 June 2009. For example, a small business that buys and installs a $2,000 computer before the end of June 2009 can claim an additional $600 tax deduction in 2008-09 for that investment. For eligible assets costing $1,000 or more acquired from July 2009 to 31 December 2009 they can claim an additional 10 per cent deduction where they were installed by 31 December 2010. As the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy has already pointed out, that will assist with the cash flow of small business. And if that assists with the cash flow of small business, it will ensure that the jobs that it creates and the people it employs are more likely to be able to retain their jobs. That is why it is important to support small business that way.

The tax breaks announced today are in addition to existing Rudd government measures, which include a 20 per cent discount on the pay-as-you-go income tax instalment due in March, to be reconciled at the end of the tax year at a cost of $440 million in 2008-09. The tax breaks announced today are also in addition to the small business advice and support that is available through the one-stop small business advisory services located in suburban, rural and regional Australia at a cost of almost $46 million, as announced in last year’s budget. In my electorate of Makin a million dollars has gone to the Business Enterprise Centre Tea Tree Gully and a million dollars has gone to the Salisbury Business and Export Centre—the first time ever that those centres have received any federal government funding. The member for Wakefield is in the chamber and I know that the small business centre in his electorate also received its share of the funding.

Measures that have already been announced also include an on time payment guarantee for new small business contracts worth up to $1 million with Commonwealth departments, where if payment is not made within 30 days then penalty interest may apply. One thing that we all know affects small business is cash flow. This guarantee is one very reasonable way of ensuring that that cash flow is maintained. We also have in mind a far-reaching program to slash red tape and work towards a seamless national economy. Again we hear comments from members opposite about red tape. I say to them: you had 12 years to sort out red tape problems. The Leader of the Opposition came into this chamber today and talked about the red tape that small business is asking him to do something about, but why didn’t the opposition do something about it in the 12 years that it was in government?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. KJ Andrews)—Order! The time for this debate has expired.