Page 1836 - Week 06 - Thursday, 14 May 2015

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There is much that needs to be done to support small business, because small business in this town is struggling. As I have been getting around the place to various cafes and restaurants to talk to staff and proprietors, getting out to Mitchell or Fyshwick and talking to people, I know how tough they are doing it.

When the findings of the Regional Australia Institute’s [In]Sight data were released, the ACT was ranked 33rd out of 55 for economic diversification and 53rd for “dominance of large employer”. On many measures we are being rated poorly comparative to other jurisdictions. We are rated poorly, 47th, for export-import-wholesale activity.

If we want to stimulate small business, if we want to get small business moving in this town, isn’t it wonderful, Madam Deputy Speaker—I am sure we would all agree—to see this really strong package, this really concerted package that has, I understand from Mr Billson, been created over a period of detailed consultation with business. These are initiatives in many cases that business wanted. They are now going to enable businesses to operate in a better business environment.

So federally we are on the right track. When it comes to small business, these changes put us on the right track. It is not just me saying that. These were described as fabulous initiatives by sections of the media that were at the budget breakfast. The Labor member there endorsed them; he acknowledged they were good and, I think, congratulated Bruce Billson for the work that he had done. There is always more work to be done, and I know that the federal government has its eye on that.

The problem is one locally. We know that this government has very strong ties to the unions. We know that, for example, United Voice were out with a crowd walking around Kingston, banging, screaming, shouting and complaining about business. That is the sort of spirit that we get from the Labor Party—out there protesting against small business, going around Kingston in a mob, banging, yelling and screaming out, “We’ll be back,” going around small businesses.

That is not our attitude, Madam Deputy Speaker. We do not want to intimidate small business. We do not want to threaten and pressure small business. We want to help small business. I beseech everybody in this place to do what we can locally and follow the example of those federally to support small business in the ACT.

MR WALL (Brindabella) (4.23): The minister with the closest responsibility for small business is more interested in his iPad than he is in participating in this debate. Hopefully, he will rise to his feet and give assuring words to the business community in Canberra that they will not be beaten with the same stick that this Treasurer has wielded for a number of years now—namely, the stick he uses to increase rates on commercial and residential properties in an attempt to triple people’s rates.

Mr Hanson spoke about some of the good news that small business around the country got on Tuesday night when the federal Treasurer Joe Hockey announced his budget. It is good news for business across the country, particularly here in the ACT, where, as I think all members in this place understand, things have been tough for quite some time, going back a good four-odd years to the days of the Rudd-

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