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Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Page: 8114

Small Business


Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:04): My question is to the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Senator Cash. Can the minister update the Senate on the Liberal-National government's measures to improve access to finance for small and family businesses?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education) (14:04): I thank Senator Bushby for the question, and I am pleased to advise the Senate that the government has today announced further support for small and family businesses across Australia. This support is in relation to access to finance. Small businesses require access to finance in order to be successful, in order to prosper and in order to grow. However, it is well known that small businesses do have difficulties in finding access to finance. In fact, the RBA itself has said:

In contrast to large businesses, it remains challenging for young small businesses to fund their expansion plans.

As we know, and as has been articulated by so many small businesses, banks are reluctant to lend to small businesses unless the funding is secured by real estate, and that is, typically, the family home. So what we have announced today as a government is that we will support small businesses all around Australia with the introduction of a $2 billion securitisation fund, to help them get better access to finance and grow their businesses.

This is so important because there are around three million small businesses in Australia that employ around seven million Australians. And you need to as a government ensure that the businesses who cannot get access to finance are able to do this so that they can expand. When they expand, they prosper and grow. And when they prosper and grow, they employ more Australians. The securitisation fund will be administered by the Australian Office of Financial Management. What it's going to do is provide an additional source of funding to the smaller banks and non-bank lenders who, in turn, will be able to lend to small businesses at more competitive rates.

The announcement today by the Morrison government shows that we back small and family businesses every step of the way, because when they prosper and grow the Australian economy grows. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bushby, a supplementary question.



Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:06): Can the minister explain further why it is important for small and family businesses to have improved access to finance?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education) (14:06): Small and family business owners are people who are prepared to take a risk, to back themselves, to work long hours day after day, week after week, and invest heavily in their businesses, and many of them put their own assets on the line. As I travel around Australia talking to and listening to small businesses, many of them express their frustration to me about their struggles to obtain access to finance. What that means for them is they're not able to expand their business. They're not able to bid for a new contract. They're not able to invest in technology that might actually transform their business. So improving access to finance will allow these businesses to expand, to purchase that equipment they need in order to grow, to increase their earning capacity. Again, it comes down to when the small and family businesses of Australia prosper and grow they create more jobs for Australians, and the Australian economy as a whole benefits.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bushby, a final supplementary question.



Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:07): How does this new measure complement other measures that the government has put in place to improve the cash flow of small and family businesses?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education) (14:08): Whether it's ensuring that they pay as little tax as possible, 25 per cent, whether it's ensuring that they're able to invest in the instant asset write-off, whether it's ensuring that they're able to offer their employees more streamlined employee share schemes or, alternatively, give them better access to finance, this government, the Morrison government, will continue to invest in small and family business. What we also know is cash flow is king. Cash flow is king for small businesses, so we are also working to reduce the payment times for small businesses. We know that unfair payment times can severely limit their cash flow and, ultimately, their ability to operate.

The Morrison government, the Liberal-National government, is leading by example, and we are going to ensure that payment times for small businesses will be 20 days or less by 1 July 2019. Cash flow is king, and the Morrison government is leading by example. (Time expired)