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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3441

Ms PRICE (Durack) (16:44): The Labor Party must think people in Western Australia are fools. It was only last week that Mr Shorten came to Western Australia and said, 'Labor is scrapping the carbon tax,' then came back to this place and continued Labor's betrayal of Western Australia by joining with the Greens to block the Abbott-led government's carbon tax repeal. On Tuesday he took this insult one step further by blocking the abolition of the mining tax. These are both anti-WA taxes. Last year alone the carbon tax cost Western Australians $600 million, while the mining tax continues to discourage investment in Australia's vital resources industry. This has had a significant impact on Durack, with the electorate accounting for 84.6 per cent of Western Australia's resources sector.

Rather than politicking and flip-flopping on policy, as those opposite do, our government is implementing strategic policies by working with industry and the community at a grassroots level and by doing what members opposite could not, or would not do: reducing regulation and cutting red and green tape so that Australia can move forward and develop as a nation.

We often use the word 'grassroots' without establishing what it really means. When I look at the grassroots of Australia and my electorate of Durack, one of my key focuses has been, and will continue to be, small business. Although the success of small business requires a personal commitment, the sector needs government leadership and effective policy decisions to flourish. In Durack, one of the biggest sectors suffering is the small business sector, particularly in the Pilbara and in wheat belt regions. In the Pilbara, as we know, we have a resources sector that contributed over $22 billion annually or some 75 per cent of total output in 2010-11. However, this has created a challenging environment, where towns such as Karratha are now playing catch-up in terms of infrastructure, community services, high rents and living expenses. This makes it difficult for established small business to remain open and makes it almost impossible for new businesses to start up. In the wheat belt, we see the same result but for different causes. Here, small businesses are fighting to keep their doors open due to a shrinking agricultural community.

Members on this side of the House know that small businesses are often the glue that holds communities together, particularly in regional areas. The focus on business, the economy and the creation of jobs by the Abbott-led government was highlighted yesterday, when we held the first ever red tape repeal day, to remove over 10,000 pieces, and 50,000 pages, of legislation and regulation, which will save over $700 million in compliance costs. This important day was part of the government's deregulation agenda, which will cut $1 billion in red and green tape each year to improve productivity, investment and employment opportunities for all Australians—compared to Labor's approach, which saw the introduction of more than 975 new or amending pieces of legislation and over 21,000 additional regulations.

Small business in particular has the potential to contribute to the growth of Australia. It is through the reduction of unnecessary regulations, and working with industry, rather than against it, that we will be able to achieve this potential. Unfortunately, those opposite continue to cling to the past and not accept the mandate that the Australian people gave the government at the federal election: that ineffective policies such as the mining tax and the carbon tax, which have hurt the hip-pocket of all Australians, need to go.

Although it is under regrettable circumstances, Western Australians will have the opportunity on 5 April to once again reaffirm their desire for a strong government and, more importantly, to ensure that Western Australia has a strong Liberal voice in the Senate, so that we can ensure that the interests of Australians are once again represented.

Thankfully, in Durack we have people who are already working with me to fight for jobs and to fight for business. The Small Business Centre West Pilbara is one organisation that has been working to create new opportunities for small businesses through the establishment of business incubators. This concept aims to provide a more affordable option for start-up businesses, where tenants co-share office space, while also providing critical support in terms of advice, coaching and mentoring. It is the establishment of these forward-thinking concepts—reducing regulation and repealing crippling legislation such as the carbon tax—that will allow small businesses in Durack and throughout Australia to grow and invest, ultimately strengthening our local economy and creating more jobs.