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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 10100

Mr RIPOLL (Oxley) (12:49): This motion, unfortunately, is not about supporting small business. It is not about giving assistance to small business. It is not about giving hope to small business. It is not about anything positive towards small business. This motion is all about scaremongering and peddling petty myths and untruths from the Liberal Party. It is more focused on Labor than it is on small business. I think that is a great shame and a great wasted opportunity in the House. I just say to the Liberal Party: shame on you. Shame on you for always claiming you are the supporters of small business, when in fact you just talk about small business. When it comes to supporting it, you always side with big business. You never side with small business, and there is evidence strewn everywhere of the facts. The facts are that when Labor was in government we did some real things for small business. We did not just talk about it.

It was Labor that increased the small business instant asset write-off threshold, from $1,000 under the Liberal Party to $6,500 under us. And guess who takes it away? The Liberal Party. The Labor Party give it for six years and the Liberal Party take it away the first day on the job. The first day on the job, the first thing they do for small business is take away the assistance that was put in place. This was helping small business make a difference. This was helping with their cash flow. This was the real sort of stuff. We hear all the bleating on the other side about small business putting everything on the line. Yes, they do—so give them a bit of a hand. That is what we did, particularly in one of the key areas of small business, which is cash flow.

In the 2012-13 budget it was Labor that announced we would provide tax relief for business by allowing them to carry back tax losses of up to $1 million, so they could receive a refund against tax already paid. That is real assistance, and that is something that has been really taken up by small business. In fact, from 2013-14 business were to be able to carry back tax losses for two years, not just one. What is the first thing the Liberal Party does when it gets in? It takes that assistance away from small business. It talks about it, but it takes it away. It does the hard stuff, the really bad stuff, to small business. These three tax incentives alone for business and small business, when combined, were worth in excess of $5 billion. That is what the Liberal Party took away from small business. They ripped $5 billion out of the heart of our economic driver in jobs and employment, which is small business. If you ever wanted a better example of the Liberals talking about small business but on the other hand hurting them, there it is.

They talk about jobs and job losses, but there could not be anything further from the truth. It does not matter how you dice it and slice it and look at the numbers, the reality is that during Labor's term in government from 2007 to 2013, the number of people employed by small business and business right across the board went from about 9½ million people to 10.6 million—a net annualised average increase of 1.8 per cent. That is quite significant and quite good, particularly given that the rest of the world went backwards a long, long way. This was during the global financial crisis. This was when Labor acted to support small business. This was when we took it on ourselves to do the hard lifting to help small business, to help them to do the hard lifting as well. I know that any fair-minded, decent-thinking person would have done the same if they cared about small business. I am not even saying the Liberal Party might not have done the same. Maybe, if they had had the opportunity, they would have. But the evidence is not there, because when they get to government they take all the assistance away. The fact is that we have taken small business and grown them into medium business. We have taken medium business and grown them into larger businesses. We have made sure that under Labor we had the right policy settings in place, the right sort of assistance and the right sorts of measures, where it was not just about hot air and talk. There actually was direct assistance. We did a lot of things to support small business and business directly, and I am really proud of that.

It was also Labor that commissioned the first national Small Business Commissioner in this country, because we knew that small business needed a direct national voice to government. I am very happy to say that that position should stay in place. The Liberal Party, while they might have watered down some of the roles of the Small Business Commissioner, have at least had the decency to keep that role in place. It was Labor that set up the superannuation clearing house to reduce red tape and the paperwork burden on small business. It was Labor that put the national business names register in place, instead of having disparate systems all over the country. Small business went from paying an average of $1,000 across the country to just $30. There was online standard business reporting. That is what you do to support small business. Labor does not talk about small business; it supports them.