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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2708 ..

Small Business and the Canberra Economy

MR HIRD: My question is to the Chief Minister, Mrs Carnell. Can the Chief Minister tell the parliament what the latest Yellow Pages survey has revealed in relation to the performance of small business in Canberra and our local economy?

MS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Hird, for the question. Mr Speaker, the release of the Yellow Pages small business index earlier this week was certainly very bad news indeed for those opposite and for those who attempt to undermine what is really good news for the rest of Canberra and particularly great news for the small business sector. The survey did contain some very, very exciting news for the 12,000 to 13,000 small businesses in Canberra. Canberra is believed to have the highest concentration of small enterprises - that is, firms employing fewer than 20 people - of any capital city in Australia, so small business becomes very important to jobs in the city.

Mr Speaker, over the past five years this Government has worked hard to encourage these small businesses to expand, to look to new markets and to employ new staff. We have put in place a number of policies, such as assistance with payroll tax exemptions for the long-term unemployed and increasing the threshold for payroll tax to $800,000, so that many of those smaller businesses simply do not pay payroll tax any more. Our aim, Mr Speaker, has been to promote the diversification of our economic base and to target growth in such areas as information technology, telecommunications, advanced technology, environmental management and other clean industries, and we have made significant progress towards that goal, with absolutely no help from those opposite. They have undermined every single step of the way. But, Mr Speaker, the last results of the Yellow Pages survey show that small businesses in Canberra - - -

Mr Quinlan: What are you talking about?

Mr Berry: Tell us about Fujitsu.

MS CARNELL: There you are. See what I am talking about? Absolute negativity all the time.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Let's have some shush.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, the Yellow Pages survey shows that small businesses in Canberra are enjoying the best conditions for growth for the past decade. Indeed, the Yellow Pages own media release states that small businesses in the ACT are leading the nation in sales, profit and capital expenditure growth. This is at a time when, at a national level, the small business sector is on track to record its strongest quarterly figures, sales and profit, for some five years.

Mr Quinlan: It is probably contagious from all the work you have done in the ACT.

Mr Smyth: It probably is.

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