Page 779 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2016

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MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Order! It is not a discussion across the chamber.

MR HANSON: We know that Labor does not have a particular regard for small business. It was in July 2000, when he was Labor leader, that Kim Beazley—remember Kim Beazley, Madam Assistant Speaker?—said in a frank confession, “We have never pretended to be a small business party. The Labor Party has never pretended that.” Some of those opposite do pretend that. Sometimes they do, because they probably think there are some votes in it, as they are hurting small business in this town, as they are having with a beer with their CFMEU mates at the Labor Club or down at the Tradies. At least Kim Beazley was honest.

We know what we have seen under this government locally but also federally where so much of the policy applies. The previous Labor government introduced 21,000 new regulations. They were imposed on business and repealed almost nothing; 21,000 extra laws that business had to comply with.

But what we saw from the federal Liberal government in the last budget was a real series of reforms that energised business. I think anyone in small business that you spoke to who saw the initiatives that were introduced in the last budget applauded the federal government for the changes to the tax regime and for some of the other regulatory changes that were made to help small business. The changes allowed big government essentially to get out of their way and helped them do their job.

We have a range of issues facing small business in the ACT. A baseline survey done as a consultancy report for the Canberra Business Chamber was provided to me. I am aware that, arising from the work that they have done, they have got a response from small business in this town.

If you speak to small businesses, a number of the issues that are really affecting them relate to tenders and procurement processes. I know from speaking to a range of small businesses that when they deal with the ACT government in the tendering process they find it excruciatingly difficult, enormously difficult, to the point where there are many small businesses that I have spoken with who say, “We simply don’t do business with the ACT government. We do not do business with the ACT government; we do business with the federal government; we do business with the private sector, but when it comes to dealing with the ACT government sector, it is just so difficult.”

This report that was released recently shows that in terms of tender evaluation, there is a whole range of categories relating to timeliness, transparency, notice of documentation and so on where the scores really are very poor. For many of the categories we are seeing satisfaction rates of a third or less than a third being reported by small business when it comes to dealing with the ACT government, particularly in relation to the tendering process.

I know that Mr Wall will speak and others want to speak as well about this important issue. I could talk today about the issue of businesses on Northbourne because of the tram. There are many other issues that have come to light arising from our

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