Page 1834 - Week 06 - Thursday, 14 May 2015

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In our town we have many small businesses—the cafes, small builders, small start-ups, techs and so on. They are all facing a difficult environment in the ACT. The Sensis report that was released a while ago makes it very clear that it is the policies of the ACT government that are an impediment to business in this town. As much as Mr Barr and his colleagues come in here and attack the federal government, and complain and whinge and moan, the reality is that when you speak to the people who are involved in business, they will tell you, “Actually, the problem is the local ACT government and their policies.” We see the excessive rates, fees and charges.

Let me tell you about the impact of the increase in rates on businesses locally: it is having a massively detrimental effect. You only need to speak to local small businesses in this town about the fees, charges and rates they are paying, the exponential growth in those rates, fees and charges that are really affecting their ability to operate. We have had a significant number of representations from small business about the impact of those changes. I have a letter—which, if I have time, I will read out—that goes through some of those massive increases that those businesses are facing.

Cutting red tape and providing support for small business are central to what we do. I was delighted at the initiatives put forward for small business in the federal budget handed down by the Treasurer, Mr Hockey, on Tuesday night. Those opposite spend their time attacking the federal government, deriding the federal government. We have seen the comments from Mr Barr—“Toxic Tony” and so on. They wonder why the relationship is not as good as it could be, perhaps, as they are out there smearing and taking every opportunity they can to try and attack the federal government. The reality is that this budget is good news for small business.

Mr Wall interjecting—

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Wall, you are going be speaking soon, I believe.

MR HANSON: I was at the federal budget Business Council breakfast on Wednesday morning. There was a good conversation there. It was a very good conversation, because on the stage we had the Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson, and from the Labor Party we had Bernie Ripoll. What was good was that both sides of the debate were being put forward about the budget. It was great to hear from the Liberal side; it was great to hear from the Labor side. In actual fact, what was good was that Bernie Ripoll commended the government for these initiatives brought forward. He thought they were good. But he had some good insights. He had really useful contributions to make.

As we know, in the ACT we used to have a similar debate. After the ACT budget, the following morning, the Business Council, now the Business Chamber, would have a breakfast. There was an invitation for the Chief Minister and the Treasurer to put their case forward and for the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow treasurer to put their case forward. That happened for years and years—until Andrew Barr became the Chief Minister. What happened? He shut down debate. Why? He was too scared to debate the opposition. He was cowardly in his behaviour; he would not front up and debate. Jon Stanhope was prepared to; Katy Gallagher was prepared to. But Andrew Barr was not.

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