Page 966 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 21 March 2012

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Unfortunately we have had an apology from the national president. Mr Kennard, the CEO of Kennards, the hire firm, is also the national president of Family Business Australia. He had hoped to be here today but due to prior commitments he was unable to be here, as is the executive officer of Family Business Australia in the ACT, Kylie Kovac, whose duties have taken her elsewhere. I want to thank Kylie in particular for all her work in representing family businesses in the ACT, and I look forward to continuing our close collaboration for the long-term benefit of family businesses in the ACT, and indeed through them for the ACT economy and for the larger ACT community.

My motion intends to seek some positive action on behalf of family businesses, including the recognition of family businesses when relevant federal and ACT policies are being developed and implemented, and to look at the collection of data on a national basis about the size and performance of family businesses in Australia. There are also some concerns which have been raised by Family Business Australia, and I will come to those in a moment.

When I was considering the best way to approach this motion, I asked the executives from Family Business Australia what they would like as the focus for such a motion, and their reply was simple and forthright: “Get government out of our way.” It is very pleasing to hear from a group that know exactly what it is they want. I decided that I could not really frame a motion utilising those exact words, but they did have some requests beyond the obvious, “We’d just like to get on with being business and doing our own thing.”

So I have developed the motion as you have it before you. Nevertheless I think that telling government and reminding government, and reminding all legislators, that business would like government to get out of their way is the story of family businesses in a nutshell. I acknowledge Matthew Power, the president of the local chapter of Family Business Australia, who has now joined us.

This motion is to encourage the government to provide the best possible environment in which businesses can prosper and then to get out of the way. Let businesses get on with what they do best—generating employment, innovating, making a profit, continuing to invest and reinvest, as well as supporting their communities.

I want to provide some statistics to place family businesses in Australia in some perspective and to show how substantial these businesses are in the commercial life of Australia. Family businesses account for around 70 per cent of all businesses in Australia. The next fact will probably come as some sort of surprise. The average turnover of a family business is $12 million per year. The average employment of each family business is 37 persons. Of course, there are a small number of family businesses with large employment, say 200 or more, at one end of the spectrum, and at the other end there are a large number of businesses which employ fewer than 20 people. I am sure there are many that employ fewer than five and probably a great number that employ none at all. But that is the snapshot.

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