South-East Queensland Small Business Forum - Post-Budget Breakfast
17 May 2017
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I am delighted to join you all here and outline how this year’s Federal Budget backs small business.
For Australians in small business – all 3.2 million of them across the country – last Tuesday was just another day.
It was another early morning, another busy day; another night spent pouring over what can sometimes feel like unnecessary paperwork.
It’s another day when the sector which employs more people than any other went to work to fund the wages of 5.6 million Australians.
Now that is a picture I think many of us here can understand. We relate to it. We remember it. Each of those stories – those of ambition and drive in small business; those of very early mornings and very late nights; those of worry about how wages will be paid – those are not stories of fairytale to each of us in this room.
That’s the story of us – the story of small business.
And on that same night – last Tuesday – it was a story of salute to the millions of Australians for whom that story is reality.
When you’ve actually run your own small business, as we have, helping the sector out is just intuitive.
When you’ve actually paid tax in small business, as we have, you know any tax relief funds your business’ growth and development.
When you’ve actually hired another person, as we have, you know the pressure to pay that person’s wage, even if it’s at the expense of your own.
But equally, when you’ve run your own small business, as we have, you know the drive and hard work it takes. The days of success when you land a sale or find another client. The pride when you can afford to put someone on, when your success funds their livelihood. The appreciation of purchasing new equipment that makes your job easier.
And if you’re an Australian to whom any of this relates, last Tuesday night was a night for you.
On that very day I guided through the House of Representatives the small business tax cuts, which enshrines into law the lowest tax rate for small business in more than 50 years.
Last Tuesday we enshrined into law the knowledge that a $2 million turnover is not a $2 million profit, and widened the definition of small business.
Last Tuesday we enshrined into law access to the instant asset write-off for thousands more small businesses.
We made it law that a $10 million turnover is the definition of a ‘small business’, meaning thousands more pay the lower tax rate.
And we said to the 3.2 million Australians who own or operate their small business that we back them.
But that was just the morning.
From 7:30pm on Budget Night – as small businesses have rightfully come to expect – the Government saluted small businesses and their service to Australia.
The Coalition knows the sector employs more Australians than any other. We know it contributes $380 billion to our economy each year. And we know it wants to grow.
So we extended the $20,000 instant asset write-off to more small businesses for another year.
Anything a small business – with a turnover less than $10 million needs – can now be deducted from tax immediately for another year.
That could be an iPad, a computer, tools for a tradie, a coffee machine for a café – literally anything less than $20,000 and it can be claimed back immediately.
Because that is the tangible help Australians in small business deserve.
And on my nationwide small business roadshow – which this week will have visited more than 50 communities in just the few weeks it’s been going – heard that message loud and clear.
I heard from Parramatta’s Alana Laliotisis – a Greek restauranteur with her husband – that the write-off caused a ‘chain reaction’.
I heard that the new equipment her business bought was sourced locally and helped them get through the bigger days in business – those ones which help pay the wages.
And I heard how the multiplier effect of that investment extended Alana’s ‘chain reaction’ throughout the local economy.
All of this boosts confidence. All of this helped Alana grow, helped her invest. It’s something that backs her desire to hire more people and have a go.
So I took that feedback to the Budget process and together we delivered an extension to the write-off.
I also heard the challenges of red tape. This is a frustration I remember well from my own time in small business and it’s something I am determined to tackle.
To date, the Coalition Government has achieved in spades. We set a target of $1 billion a year when we were elected and have delivered $5.8 billion in reductions.
But – like all of you – I know more needs to be done.
And that’s the feedback shared by people in small business everywhere which I took back to the Budget.
From Simone Eyles at Wagga Wagga in my first interview as Small Business Minister to Lina Salem just a few weeks ago in Sydney, almost every time I ask a small business what their biggest gripe is with Government, the answer echoes Simone.
“I’d really like to do more business with Government and get rid of that red tape. It’s a real hassle.”
(Simone Eyles, 31 July 2016)
So I have.
In Tuesday’s Budget we delivered $300 million in an incentive to the States and Territories to work together in cutting red tape.
This is something the sector has been crying out for and I have delivered real money to help the Federal Government play its part, building on the $5.8 billion we have cut in small business red tape to date.
So please, get in touch with the States and Territories and tell them the paperwork you find unhelpful. And together I will work with them to try to make it easier.
This is a Budget with small business firmly in the driver’s seat.
Our tax cut helps small business have go.
Our instant asset write-off helps even more small businesses buy the equipment they need.
Our incentive payments will help cut even more red tape.
But just as we have delivered yet another Budget to back small business, a challenge to that plan looms.
Even though the tax cuts and expanded definition are law, the Labor Party wants to reverse it.
It wants to raise small business tax and cut access to the instant asset write-off.
The Opposition Leader has pledged to scrap the incentive payments on red tape, slugging small business with more unnecessary paperwork.
Labor’s is a plan for the economy without small business.
Supposedly, it’s a plan for jobs, while cutting out the country’s largest job-creator.
99 per cent of businesses in Australia are small and yet they do not feature in the Opposition’s policy.
And it’s because of the very story I told at the start of this speech.
Remember the early mornings, the late nights, and the stress of workers’ wages reliant on your success?
That is not a story the Labor Opposition understands.
On Friday last week, a senior Shadow Minister confirmed the tax hike would be part of Labor’s policy at the next election.
Its only policy which actually affects small business puts a cap on tax affairs and legal advice – most of which is provided to small business by small business.
It’s no wonder Peter Strong, from the Council of Small Businesses of Australia, expressed disappointment in the Labor Party’s response to the Budget.
“My members are saying they are really concerned that Labor is no longer interested in small business.”
(Peter Strong, 12 May 2017)
Because small business cannot be hoodwinked.
It is too big and too important to our economy to fall for hollow promises and tax hikes.
Small businesspeople are excited, they want to have a go and they want to create jobs.
And as Australia’s largest job-creator, the message from this Government is very, very clear.
We get it.
Go for it.
We back you.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.