Page 780 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2016

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doorknocking. We will continue to do that. But, in closing, let me say that we will always be on the side of small business. We mean it sincerely. When we are in government, small business will thrive. As a result, we will see more jobs and more economic opportunities. (Time expired.)

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability, Minister for Small Business and the Arts and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (3.43): Madam Assistant Speaker, you would think that the leader of the Canberra Liberals, when he comes into this place with a topic of public importance called “The importance of small business in the ACT”, might have something interesting to say, something more to say than what he has said before. But all we heard for the last 15 minutes of his time in this debate was a rehash of the usual invective that he likes to throw across the chamber. We heard more about unions and the ALP than about what the Canberra Liberals plan to do as their election policy for small business in this town.

Madam Assistant Speaker, as you will know, I have had 16 years working as an owner and operator of small business in the ACT. Mr Hinder, who joined us this morning, brings a wealth of business experience. Ms Burch has her own experience in small business. We would have to say that for the Canberra Liberals, small business is still the forgotten people.

Opposition members interjecting—

DR BOURKE: At least you get the idea. Small business plays a significant role in building a strong and diverse economy, creating jobs and driving investor confidence in our great city.

Small business is growing in Canberra. ABS data released in February 2016 indicates that as at June 2015 there were 25,689 businesses in the ACT, a one per cent increase on the previous 12 months and in line with national growth. They can cover every conceivable form of business activity, from all the traditional trades to personal services businesses and online and home-based businesses, including craft and social enterprises. They play an important community-building role in the city beyond the impact of their economic activity. They are the friendly faces at our local shopping and business precincts. They are at the heart of revitalisation of our urban precincts—New Acton, the ANU exchange, Braddon and Kingston Foreshore. And many local community and sporting organisations would be all the poorer without the support and promotion they receive from our small business community, with both financial and in-kind donations and contributions.

Around 96 per cent of our total business population is defined as small business. Many successful businesses have started from a simple innovative idea and grown to become nationally and internationally renowned. Many of these began as a home business operating out of garages and spare rooms.

Madam Assistant Speaker, today being International Women’s Day, I am going to acknowledge the role women play in small business today. According to a report published by the ABS in 2013, around 30 per cent of businesses in the ACT are

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