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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9156

Small Business

Mr WOOD (La Trobe) (14:41): My question is to the Minister for Small Business. Will the minister inform the House what the government is doing to energise the small business sector. How will this help the economy?

Mr BILLSON (DunkleyMinister for Small Business) (14:41): I thank the member for La Trobe. What a great privilege it was to work with him at a small business community forum recently in Beaconsfield and to hear firsthand from those people mortgaging their houses—and, in some cases, their firstborn—to invest in an enterprise about what it is that we are actually doing to support their enterprise. A key part of that is about getting those broader economic settings right. We often hear the debate in this place about what should and should not happen, but there can be no argument about the need to get the economic fundamentals right in this country. Through that, we can build a strong economy and create the prosperity that we need to generate the wealth and revenue to maintain crucial government services to invest in infrastructure for the future and to give our defence and security organisations all the tools they need to continue this country's reputation as a great place to raise a family and build a business.

What we are doing is trying to get the budget fixed. There was a time when Labor thought that that mattered. There was a time when anyone with any sense of responsibility in this parliament knew that you could not see the ship of state heading towards the rocks without taking responsibility to right its course and get it back on track. But instead of going along and supporting the clear economic strategy that this government has outlined, those opposite and some on the crossbench and in the Senate are saying there is no problem. Well, we know the trajectory of the budget. We know we have inherited six record budgets from Labor. We know we have inherited a budget deficit trajectory of $123 billion. We know that Labor has left us on track for $667 billion of debt.

Even at the debt level right now, $1 billion a month is being borrowed just to service that debt—$1 billion that could go into that crucial infrastructure supporting those programs that we talked about. So I think it is right that the business community is saying to this parliament and in particular the Senate: 'Please let the government get on with its job. It has a credible economic action strategy, a budget recovery plan that sees important and measured changes being made today to get the trajectory right so that we can do the right thing by our citizens into the future.'

There is nothing fair about knowing that the budget is in a precarious situation if we do nothing. There is nothing just about saying someone else can fix that problem down the track and making the action to correct it harder than it needs to be. If we take measured action today, we can see the budget recover and we can arrest the financial difficulties that Labor has created and left for this government and this nation. But we need to start that work now. So I again urge those opposite to listen to what the business community is saying; listen to what competent, wise economists are saying; take responsible action now; see the government's budget recovery action introduced; avoid the need for harsh action down the track; and let us get on with energising enterprise and building the prosperity we need for the future. (Time expired)