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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6795


Mr BILLSON (DunkleyMinister for Small Business) (10:52): I thank the member for Oxley for his question. I am happy to help him with his understanding of the figures. I know there is probably not really any authoritative voice amongst his colleagues who could explain these figures to him. But I am happy to do that, because I am always happy to provide good service wherever I am able to.

He talked about the changing employment numbers and sought to extract certain elements of that ABS table that did not suit his argument. It is quite simple. If you carve out bits that are unhelpful, you will probably get a different answer to the ones that reasonably depict the livelihoods that are available within small businesses employing 19 and under people. That is what the ABS data says. That ABS data, including all those that fall within the small business category, will be microbusiness, home based businesses, all important businesses, and it includes self-employment and non-employing businesses. There is nothing wrong with that. We think there is nothing wrong with people who choose their own pathway to achieve a livelihood. We know Labor has a different view. That is why you have seen this coordinated attack on independent contractors and self-employed people.

Again, this is borne out by the question today. He does not even want to talk about non-employing businesses. A non-employing business is still a livelihood, and a livelihood matters. A livelihood in a small business matters, even if it is not employing somebody and is a sole operator. We do not need to be reminded by Labor how indifferent they are to those courageous men and women who mortgage their houses, who take risks to create opportunities for themselves. You just brush them away as if they do not count. A non-employing small business matters.

There were a stack more of them before you guys got into office. There are so many fewer of them now. We are still seeing a recovery—which is needed—now that you have gone, because there is now confidence that the government are on the side of small-business men and women, that we are an ally, that we are an advocate. We are not an adversary like you guys were. Five hundred and nineteen thousand jobs were lost in small business. That is 519,000 livelihoods. If you want to carve them off and say that because they are not employing somebody they do not count, shame on you. Shame on you! Do not come into this place masquerading as if you care when you have such a disdain for people who are running their own business but happen not to be employing anybody.

We want to see them grow. We want to see them prosper. We want to see them thrive. And that is why we have the comprehensive policy package to deliver that outcome. That is what we have. That is what we are working for. That is what is different about the coalition, the Liberal-National parties. Labor say: 'If you're self-employed or you're a small business and you don't employ anybody, you don't matter. We'll just take you off the data. We'll just not even think about you, and we'll concoct another piece of fiction like the budgets to try and argue a narrow, hollow, self-serving case'—which ignores the very interests of people who deserved a whole lot more respect from Labor when the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government were in office. If they have learnt nothing, we just saw evidence of it today. They have still learnt nothing. Show a bit of respect for those people who mortgage their houses.

The member did not care to talk about the extra 200,000 people who were added to the unemployment lists under Labor. He chose not to talk about those. He chose not to go to the insolvency numbers that are there. He chose not to go to business formation numbers. He chose to cherry-pick some of the consumer surveys that are out there and the confidence surveys—where the message coming back to me time and time again is that people are less troubled by the facts of the budget when the facts are shared with them. What some of those sentiment indexes are reflecting is the shrill, over-the-top, scaremongering of Labor, who, through their actions and their dishonesty, are ripping out of people's livelihoods and their plans for the future the confidence and optimism that we are focused, every day, on building for them so that we have a strong and prosperous economy, so that people can be safe and secure about their future prospects, so that those small businesses not employing—so disdained by Labor—might choose to become an employing small business.

That is why we have made changes in the area of Fair Work, to provide some guidance and support tools for that non-employing small business to encourage them and assist them to make that decision about a new recruitment. There is a direct helpline in to Fair Work. It is not like Labor's, where you used to disclose the facts of your case and they reserved the right to prosecute you.

These are some of the practical measures that are part of our comprehensive plan to restore the jobs lost in the small-business economy under Labor, to rebuild confidence and optimism about the prospects into the future. I say to every small business, every family enterprise, even those that are non-employing and disdained by Labor: you all matter. You are valued and respected by the coalition. You are the engine room of the economy. We know that Labor took a cylinder or two out of the engine. We want to get that performance back because it is crucial to our future prospects.