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Tuesday, 11 October 1983
Page: 1594

Mr SHIPTON(10.27) —The outstanding thing about the estimates for the Department of Industry and Commerce that we are considering this evening is that they and the Budget do nothing at all for small and medium-sized business in Australia. Let us look at what the Australian Labor Party offered the small business community at the last election. I quote from the policy:

On election to Government Labor will immediately implement an Australian small business action program.

These estimates say nothing of it. The Budget does not mention it. We have no Australian small business action program. Let us look in a little more detail at what the Government's policy says, apart from the small business action program that we have heard nothing about. It talks about tax. It says that a Labor government will ease the tax burden on small business. There is nothing of this in the estimates. It says further that a Labor government will:

. . . legislate to allow small firms full retention of profits where these funds are to be used for genuine business purposes.

Labor talks further in its policy about allowing the option of provisional tax to be paid in quarterly instalments. There is no mention of that in the Budget or in the estimates we are considering tonight. Later the policy talks about amending sales tax legislation as part of the small business action program 'to allow a full month for remittances of tax owing'. This would allow an enormous release of cash flow to small businesses. But none of these promises are fulfilled in the estimates we are considering tonight. The policy also talks about phasing out investment allowances. There was no mention of that, thank goodness.

The lack of confidence given by this Budget and these estimates to the small business community is shown in the failure to fulfil promises. But not only have these promises failed to be fulfilled. It is worth noting that the Minister responsible for the administration of small business in Australia, the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Button), said after the election that he was in favour of imposing a capital gains tax in return for the taxation concessions promised by Labor in its policy speech before the election. That is the view of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He has publicly stated that and has not withdrawn it. Not only has Labor failed to fulfil these promises in the estimates before us tonight. The Budget of which these estimates are a part is a public sector Budget which squeezes the private sector, which squeezes businesses in Australia and which squeezes the private business community.

Consideration interrupted.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! It being 10.30 p.m., I shall report progress.

Progress reported.