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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3919

WYATT ROY (Longman) (10:03): On 27 April this year, Senator Eric Abetz, shadow minister for employment and workplace relations, and I, together with Commerce Caboolture and the CBD Traders of Caboolture, hosted a local small business roundtable to discuss issues worrying small businesses in my community. In Longman, we have twice the unemployment rate of the rest of Australia, and there is close to a 50 per cent commercial shopfront vacancy rate in Caboolture. Small business owners made it very clear to Senator Abetz and me that this is largely a result of a lack of confidence. They stated that there is a 'crisis of confidence'—their words, not mine—caused by a lack of certainty in government policy.

We need look no further than Labor's toxic carbon tax to see what small business owners are referring to. They do not know what it is going to mean for their businesses. Many of these small businesses owners are already struggling to keep their businesses afloat—selling homes, taking our second mortgages and cashing in superannuation to keep their businesses operating. They pay their staff before they pay themselves. They make sacrifices to keep people employed. These are the people on whom the government intends to impose additional costs in the form of additional taxes. The glaring omission of the carbon tax in this budget has done nothing to reassure small business owners in Longman. The uncertainty continues for them.

Last Friday a small business owner visited one of my listening posts, which I conducted all over my electorate last week. The owner of an earthmoving business told me that the crisis in confidence has had a terrible impact on their once-thriving business. Where they once employed five people in the office and 14 permanent subcontractors, they are now struggling to keep one employee in the office and two permanent subcontractors. How are Labor's new taxes going to help this person?

Small business owners are saying to me, 'Let government just get out of the way and let us run our businesses so that we can thrive and prosper and employ people.' They ask: 'Can the government support our businesses by keeping low and regulation light? Can government stop the waste and mismanagement that is dampening confidence?' What I say to these small business owners, the people who are the engine room of employment and prosperity in Australia, is that their lives will only just get harder under the current Labor government. The budget has not provided any relief or any reassurance to improve confidence in my community. The challenges facing small business, such as difficulty accessing credit, have not been addressed and interest rates will invariably go up as a result of the deficit, waste and mismanagement of this Labor government. In my community people just want a job, and it is a vibrant small business community that will deliver this opportunity to them—something Labor will never understand.