Page 778 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2016

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But what we need to do is encourage small business. We need to try to transition away from an economy that is dependent on the federal government. We know that the statistics in terms of small business and private sector employment, relative to government sector employment, were much healthier—60-40—when we last had a Liberal government. They have declined under this government.

That is only going to be fixed if we look at things like rates, if we look at things like parking, if we make life easier for small business, if we tackle the restrictive regime in terms of regulation and taxation that affects business every day. We have announced I think a very important change when it comes to getting business in this town moving. That is the repeal of the lease variation charge. That is one that will not only have a significant effect on the shape of this city, getting densification into our city and town centres, but also will have a really good impact on so many businesses in this town.

What it will mean is not just the builders going into Civic and going into town centres and renewing our town centres and creating all that extra economic and business activity in the building sector. What it will do, by getting the extra number of people into Civic and into our town centres, is create that population density that will allow retail to flourish and our cafes, bars and restaurants to have extra activity because there will be more people in those locations.

I notice that Mr Barr recently said he would like to see more people in Civic. Meanwhile, he has a tax on development, a tax on progress. It is the very tax that is stopping people from going into Civic. So we want Canberra to be a place where people want to do business. That point I was making earlier about changing the culture is so important.

We will be having much more to say about small business in terms of regulation, in terms of taxation, in terms of the change of culture. But one thing we have done that I think is very important is to create the shadow minister for small business. Mr Andrew Wall comes from a small business. He understands, lives and breathes small business. We have somebody at the forefront who is always reminding me and others about the impact of everything we do: every time we pass a law, every time we look at a piece of policy. He reminds us what the impact is going to be on those small businesses and the people that they employ.

I know that he has been very active in knocking on doors out there, understanding what it is that is confronting small business. I know that one particular area of interest was the newsagents and the regulation change. I was talking to a newsagent on Saturday night who applauded Mr Wall for the work that he did in trying to stop the Lotto products moving to service stations, which then was just another hit on those existing small businesses that are already facing so many difficulties.

This business, in particular, is one that is struggling to remain viable because of the costs—in particular, the rates that they are paying. Encouraging small business, through allowing it to thrive, is the best way that we can create those jobs that we need because—

Members interjecting—

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