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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6289

Small Business

Mr SYMON (Deakin) (14:50): My question is to the Minister for Housing, Minister for Homelessness and Minister for Small Business. How is the government boosting confidence for small business in Australia? Is there any misinformation about this and how is the government addressing it?

Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (GortonMinister for Housing, Minister for Homelessness and Minister for Small Business) (14:51): I thank the member for Deakin for his question and his ongoing concern for 15,600 small businesses in his electorate. The government is boosting confidence for small business by returning the budget to surplus. We have the lowest official cash rate for many a year—lower than at any time under the Howard government. We have low unemployment. We have low debt. We have contained inflation. We have $500 billion of investment in the pipeline, which instils confidence in business, including small business.

Of course, we have payments to pensioners and students, tax cuts to workers, and school bonuses to parents, enhancing consumer confidence, which in turn will enhance business confidence. And the budget, of course, helps cut down paperwork and encourages investment through the asset write-offs and the loss carry-back scheme. The member has asked me whether there has been any misinformation in relation to these matters and whether we have some concerns. Well, we need look no further than the Leader of the Opposition, who has not met a voter he has not tried to scare. The Leader of the Opposition and his cohorts continue to talk the economy down, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Just over a week ago, the member for Higgins claimed online that a business in her electorate was closing down due to government policies, including carbon pricing. Of course, the truth was somewhat different. The owner in question confirmed he was using the premises to sell his stock from his actual store three doors down the road because his tenant had recently vacated. The member, accompanied by the shadow minister for industrial relations, Senator Abetz, claimed the shop was closing down when in truth it was temporarily expanding its shopfront to sell its stock. I, of course, forgive the owner for what he has advised was an attempt at black humour. But I do not forgive the cruel hoax that the member for Higgins and the shadow minister for industrial relations have done to scare small businesses in that electorate and, indeed, electorates around the country.

This is just another part of the scare campaign waged by the Leader of the Opposition on all small businesses across this country. He has no capacity other than to trash our economy contrary to the evidence. He has no capacity to do anything other than talk our economy down, which, of course, affects adversely confidence in small business. Indeed, I tell you: when I talk to small businesses they ask when he is going to say one thing about a positive plan for them and for this country's future.

Mr Pyne: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: I would ask the minister to table that photograph that says, 'No thanks, Julia,' which he was referring to.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. He is abusing points of order. I have told people that this is not appropriate. Anyone caught doing it henceforth will be excluded from the chamber.