Small Business

I rise to strongly support this motion by the member for Mallee, particularly in relation to acknowledging small business as such a major contributor to the national economy and one that should be noted for its innovation—as we see constantly in our electorates—and for the entrepreneurship of small business people. Really, we must commend the small business minister, the Treasurer and the Prime Minister for the decision on the accelerated depreciation for assets purchased under $20,000. As we know, of the two million actively trading businesses in Australia, almost 96 per cent are small businesses.

That is part of the reason they are so important to a coalition government and why the federal government has such a strong focus on the needs of small business. As we know, these are the people who invest their own money, take extraordinary risk and have a go. They are exactly the sort of people investing, and investing often, in the opportunities for young people to have their first job. They support many of our communities right around Australia. We saw, unfortunately, that with the previous government there were five or six small business ministers. They certainly did not take this seriously, but we do.

 I was talking before about the number of small businesses not only around Australia but in my electorate. There are 12,716 small businesses in my electorate, and of those 3,551 are in business services, 2,766 in construction and another 1,990 in agriculture. There are also a range of others in distribution services, personal services, social services, manufacturing, mining and utilities. Many of those businesses have been in touch with me to talk about the measures in this budget that have really proven to be very useful for their business. Not only that; it shows a lot of respect for the small businesses themselves, with the fact that the 2015 budget delivered $3.25 billion in tax cuts for small businesses and $1.75 billion in accelerated depreciation measures and cut the company tax rate for up to 780,000 incorporated businesses with an annual turnover of up to $2 million to 28.5 per cent—that is the lowest since 1967. From July, as we know, the government is providing the five per cent discount for 1½ million sole traders, trusts and partnership structures that are unincorporated with an annual turnover of up to $2 million, capped at $1,000, through to their end-of-year tax return.

Of course, this $20,000 immediate deduction is particularly important to each small business. They each have their own specific needs within their business. This gives them the flexibility and also it provokes them into taking the next step in their business. As I said when I first started, these small business people are the ones who invest their own money and who have a great passion for what they do. As I have said in previous speeches, not only do they often provide young people, particularly in rural and regional areas, with their first job; they often provide people with their last job. They are an integral part of those small businesses.

They are also an integral part of a small community. Frequently, small businesses are all we have out in our electorates—very small businesses. They support the whole community—community service organisations and sporting clubs. They provide all sorts of gear and equipment for any local community service. They are the heart and soul, frequently, of our small rural and regional communities—often undervalued and under-respected in that space. You will see that they are the ones who have their doors open whenever you need them. In a small community, that can be quite difficult, because their profits may not always be what they could make in a much larger community. But they stay with their small regional community; they are committed to it. Such is the commitment of small businesses not only to what they do but also to the communities that they serve so well.

As someone who, with my husband, started a business—we literally bought the first property on the day we got married—I understand the issues of debt and interest rates. During our time we saw interest rates move from 17 to 23 per cent. That is the risk that small businesses take. They have a go, no matter what the circumstances.

They actually invest; they employ people. This is a very good measure. The decisions that this government make and continue to make support such a critical part of our economy, which is small business.