Madame/Deputy Speaker I wish to update the House on what the Government has achieved for small businesses in my electorate of Bonner, what we are further doing to help local businesses, and what services and initiatives are now available to businesses in Bonner.
I’m pleased to report that my Small Business Forum, which I hosted with Minister for Small Business the Honourable Bruce Billson on October 14, was a great success. A number of business owners and representatives turned up on the night, and it was a pleasure to make the acquaintance of so many new people, as well as catch up with old friends, and see many in the room forge new connections over their shared passion for business.
With my own small business background managing and operating a chain of restaurants, I know the hard work and long hours involved in running a small business. It is easy to empathise with the daily predicaments business owners face.
One of the major talking points of my Small Business Forum was the need to protect small business in cases of misuse of market power and unconscionable conduct. Attendees on the night responded positively to Minister Billson’s overview of the current Competition Policy Review chaired by Professor Ian Harper, the first comprehensive review of Australia’s competition law, policy and institutional framework in 20 years.
I thank Minister Billson for his update on the Harper Review, and for encouraging attendees to ensure their important voice is heard by making a comment or submission on the Harper Review Panel’s recently released Draft Report. I look forward to seeing the outcome of the Harper Review and for some positive outcomes for small businesses in my electorate.
Other important issues Minister Billson and I addressed at the Forum included cutting red tape for small businesses, and helping employers grow their businesses and create jobs.
The Government’s first Red Tape Repeal Day back in March was a major win for small business.
We removed more than 50,000 pages of unnecessary government regulation and legislation as part of our commitment to cut $1 billion a year in red and green tape costs. Our second Repeal Day took place yesterday and will mean more savings and benefits for small business.
Of course, I must also mention the biggest win for small businesses in Bonner this year: the repeal of the carbon tax. At my Small Business Forum I was extremely pleased to hear from business owners who have seen significant savings in their power bills since the carbon tax was abolished in June.
Treasury has estimated that, with the carbon tax gone, retail electricity prices should be around nine per cent lower and retail natural gas prices should be around seven per cent lower in 2014-15.
This is a great win for small businesses, particularly those who rely on cold storage – as Minister Billson shared at the Forum, refrigerant gas prices went up an incredible 400 per cent after the carbon tax was introduced. What a relief this giant impost on small business is now dead and buried.
Minister Billson also informed attendees at the Forum, some of whom expressed reservations about the $1,000 GST low-value exemption on imported goods, that the GST threshold was a key focus at the inaugural Small Business Ministers meeting earlier this month. I eagerly await further progress on discussions over lowering the GST threshold, which will help small businesses in Bonner against fierce overseas competition.
I am pleased that small businesses in Bonner are also benefitting from new, existing and upcoming services available to them that are continuing to evolve and improve.
I thank the Wynnum and Districts Chamber of Commerce for coming out to the Forum and inviting attendees to register with their Small Business Advisory Service. Through this free service, local businesses can access experienced mentors with strong business expertise, business and marketing planning advice, a referral service, and small group think tanks and Q & A panels on selected business topics.
I also thank those from the Manly Chamber of Commerce and Bayside Women in Business who attended the Forum. Manly Chamber of Commerce also does great work for small businesses in Bonner, while Bayside Women provides local women in business with networking opportunities as well as assistance with building and running a small business. I have also been involved in plans for a new community-oriented business hub in Wynnum that will be another great boost for Bayside businesses.
Many thanks go to Minister Billson for attending my Small Business Forum, and to those who turned up on the night. I very much appreciate those who took the time out of their busy schedules to discuss with the Minister and myself the issues most important to them. I will continue to fight on behalf of all small businesses in Bonner and to assist them in any way I can.