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Tuesday, 27 February 2001
Page: 24470

Mr FITZGIBBON (2:30 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Small Business. Minister, are you aware that today's Yellow Pages Small Business Index confirms that the first six months of the GST have produced the worst result on small business profitability in the history of the survey? Minister, now that you have apologised to the small business community for increased paperwork the GST has created, will you apologise for its impact on profitability?

Mr IAN MACFARLANE (Minister for Small Business) —The government is listening to the concerns of small business and we have accepted that there are some issues that we need to address. That was reflected in our announcement last week—

Mr Crean —Roll-back.

Mr IAN MACFARLANE —You are the ones with roll-back. The opposition are the ones with roll-back, Mr Speaker. The reality is that confidence of small business actually increased by six points in the survey that you quite rightly referred to. Amongst those other findings, profitability was actually up seven points and net sales performance was up 13 points. But the member for Hunter should have checked his facts. Back in 1995, sixty-four per cent of small business people thought that the Beazley and Keating policies were working against them. I have got the graph here, Mr Speaker. Under Labor, at no time—

Mr SPEAKER —The minister may refer to the graph but cannot use it for the purpose for which he is now using it.

Mr IAN MACFARLANE —At no time did business confidence in the Labor Party policies ever reach the lowest level of this current government. At no time did business confidence ever get to reach our lowest level, let alone our highest level. I table the chart.