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Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Page: 10731


Mr ZIMMERMAN (North Sydney) (14:37): My question is to the Minister for Jobs, Industrial Relations and Women. Will the minister update the House on how the government is helping to support small and family businesses so they earn more and live better? What risks do alternative approaches pose to this vital part of Australia's economy?

Ms O'DWYER (HigginsMinister for Jobs, Industrial Relations and Women) (14:37): I thank the member for North Sydney for his question. Like everybody else on this side, he is backing small and family-sized businesses, because he, like everybody on this side, supports tax cuts for those small and family-sized businesses, including the 31,000 small and family businesses in his electorate and the more than three million small businesses right across this country. We know how important these businesses are to our national economy, as the member rightly notes. We know it because we know that these small businesses create, once every 100 seconds in this country, an opportunity for themselves and for the many people that they employ. There are so many people putting their energy, their capital and their hard work into creating their own economic opportunity.

But I am sad to say to the member for North Sydney that they do face threats. They face threats from those opposite, because those opposite see small and family-sized businesses, including the seven million people that they employ, as second-class citizens in this country. If it is a choice between militant union bosses and small and family-sized businesses, they will choose militant union bosses every time. If it's a choice between John Setka and a small-business person, they will choose John Setka every time. And they will back the ACTU and John Setka's plan to rip up the rules when it comes to workplaces right across this country—which, of course, will have devastating consequences.

We saw it in December last year, when there were illegal blockades of the Victoria International Container Terminal. We saw these militant union bosses stop exports like fruit and milk products—straight from our nation's hardworking farmers. We saw them have this produce left rotting on the containers and on the shores. And, today, we have seen militant union bosses shut down our nation's cities. According to the industry groups who have done calculations on this, this will be a loss to productivity of around $250 million. Those opposite, of course, will cheer them on every step of the way, because they want industrial sector-wide action and industry pattern bargaining to become the new norm. They are anti-small business. They will shut down our ports, leaving small businesses without the stock that they need for Christmas. They will let the unions shut down construction sites, delaying the delivery of a billion dollars of infrastructure projects, and they will shut down our schools if they are given a chance. Those opposite would have the law-breakers become the lawmakers, and we would all pay a heavy price for that.