Transcript: 1503 2BS GOLD Interview – Bathurst

4 July 2017

DOM INGERSOLE:

The State of the Nation Dinner for the Nationals Party is going to be held at the RSL club tonight and I’m lucky enough to be joined in the studio by Federal Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack and Member for Calare Andrew Gee. Good afternoon to the both of you.

ANDREW GEE:

How time flies, good morning.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Hi Dom.

 DOM INGERSOLE:

Now, Minister McCormack we’ll start with you. The financial year has just ended. People and businesses are busy doing their taxes. What kind of year has it been for the small businesses?

 MICHAEL McCORMACK:

It’s been a very good year because the tax rate is now 27.5% for businesses under $10 million turnover, the lowest the tax rate has been since 1940.

This financial year businesses can look forward to a simpler BAS, so just GST on sales, GST on purchases and total sales, so three categories instead of the usual, or the previous seven. That’s sensational for small businesses. As well the instant asset write-off, where businesses can write down capital expenditure on equipment instantly, they don’t have to put it on a long depreciation scale. That’s really good and something I fought hard for, the Nationals fought hard for and the Treasurer made part of his May 9 Budget. That’s really good news for small business.

Overall we’re trying to cut through some of that red tape. If businesses out there are listening, if they’ve got particularly State or Federal overlay as far as beaurocracy and paperwork, and they think ‘gee I just don’t know why we’re filling that out all the time in this onerous way’, get in touch with Andrew Gee’s office, send me an email and we can look at it. We’re trying to incentivise States. We’ve put $300 million on the table. I’ll be really pleased to have a talk to John Barilaro and Paul Toole tonight, Nationals colleagues in the state sphere about what we can do further to help small business. 

DOM INGERSOLE:

And in terms of small business, of course this Sunday just been has been the first Sunday that penalty rates will be affected for people in retail, pharmacy, fast food and hospitality. Is the change to penalty rates a good thing for business? Is it a good thing for employees, or are employees missing out? 

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well Peter Strong, the Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Small Business of Australia believes it will create an additional 10,000 jobs.

It’s being phased in over three years so that’s a long phase-in period and the basic wage was increased last week to by the Fair Work Commission. That Fair Work Commission decision - and they decided both of them - that will more than compensate according to the Fair Work Commission any lag in what the penalty rates decision has. Also it’s only five awards out of 122.

What it does mean, is that many businesses who previously decided to close on a Sunday because they - particularly coffee shops in regional areas - didn’t want to pay $40 upwards an hour for people to pour coffees. They may well decide to now open. And the penalty rates, they’ve not been totally taken away. They’re just commeasuring it with Saturday rates.

If Peter Strong is right and it’s going to create 10 000 additional jobs, that’s going to create productivity and employment. Those people who may be missing out a little bit in the initial phase may well find that they’ve got even more work in the future. 

DOM INGERSOLE:

And is it part of this shift that we’ve seen in the past 20 or so years where the weekend isn’t really the weekend anymore? We seem to like being active seven days a week, and having the option to visit a shop, go out seven days a week. 

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

We also have a lot more grey nomads travelling and when people go to little country towns they like to pull up and have a look at the nick-knack stores, have a look at the antiques shops, the dress shops. But if there are no coffee shops open, quite often all those businesses are shut as well. People expect now that on a Sunday - any day of the week as you say - that they’re going to be able to have shops open. That’s just part of the modern day twenty-first century which we live in. 

DOM INGERSOLE:

Sounds good. Now my wish for the future; at one stage, can we get banks open on the weekend? Get those accepting deposits and stuff, because I find it crazy that in this world of 24/7 trading that we do banking on the weekend and then don’t see it until Monday. Who do we need to talk to, to get that solved? 

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

That’s a matter for the banks. But, you know I’ve always said if people don’t like what they’re getting from their banks then have a look at a credit union. Have a look at one of the customer owned banking institutions. They do a grand job in regional Australia. They’re providing capital loans and all the rest and very friendly faces in those sorts of institutions, some of which do open on a Saturday morning. 

DOM INGERSOLE:

So there we go. Now on to tonight’s dinner; what’s on the agenda? 

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

It’s called the State of the Nation. It’s a very grand title Andrew and I’ll be looking forward to, with Andrew, discussion in a Q and A session with people who are attending - and it has certainly always been open to the public - as well as John Barilaro and Paul Toole - about the issues facing regional Australia but certainly also the opportunities, because there are many out there. We’ve just visited Appiwork, a place Zoe Header has got. Andrew, she told us that this small app developer, she’s the leading tech company in the world. 

ANDREW GEE:

She’s just been voted best app developer. 

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

By her competitors - how good is that, right here in Bathurst? So just because you’re in Bathurst doesn’t mean to say that you can’t achieve world-wide fame, and she is. 

ANDREW GEE:

She’s hitting it out of the park. Good on you Zoe. 

DOM INGERSOLE:

Great to hear! Now Andrew, in your opinion what is the State of the Nation like? What are you working on at the moment for the Central West? 

ANDREW GEE:

A couple of big issues at the moment; for Bathurst at the moment it’s all about the RPM’s. Trying to get the second race track up and running, so we’ve been putting a lot of work into that.

The Murray-Darling medical school is a big one as well. That will go into Michael’s electorate if we can get it over the line as well down at Wagga - getting a fair bit of pushback from the big end of town on that which is not unexpected. Look, we know the current system isn’t working, because if it was, we’d have plenty of doctors out here. But it’s not working. There are doctor shortages all over country NSW and Australia, so we’ve got to try something new. We certainly applaud the doctors who are working hard in the system as it is at the moment. But the facts don’t lie. There aren’t enough doctors out here. The current programs are not working. CSU as we all know has got a great new program that’s going to change it up out here. We know it works because it’s working up in North Queensland at James Cook. So that’s a big one I’m working on as well.

There are many other projects on a slightly smaller scale that I’ve also got my eye on, but they’re two of the bigger ones at the moment. 

DOM INGERSOLE:

So would you both say that New South Wales is in a good State at the moment? 

ANDREW GEE:

I think we’re not without our challenges out here. New South Wales as a State is going very well, but we’ve got some big challenges out there and you can’t run away from them.

One of the big ones, on feedback I’m getting at the moment, is people are very concerned about electricity prices and gas prices. So that’s a lot of work for Governments out there.

So yes, things are going pretty well. The economy is ticking over and the Bathurst economy is going I think particularly well, but we’ve got some big challenges out there and they’ve got to be dealt with. 

DOM INGERSOLE:

How important are nights like this to get in contact with the community and really feel that grassroots level at what the opinion of the community is? 

ANDREW GEE:

Vitally important. I know some of the people who will be there tonight, particularly business people, because tonight’s all about small business and there are a lot of small business people who are keen to have their say and get some feedback from Michael and the Deputy Premier. It’s a good opportunity.

I think it’s vitally important and that’s what good MPs actually do, they get out and listen to people. I take the messages on board and I’m going to be taking them back to the Prime Minister and whoever else’s ear I can bend on certain issues. That’s what I do and that’s what Michael does as well. 

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

It’s about listening to feedback and then acting on it. We take it, in John and Paul’s case to Macquarie Street, in Andrew and my case back to Canberra, and when we’re setting our policy agenda it’s the feedback that we hear at the grassroots that goes towards forming those policies that are needed for regional areas. 

ANDREW GEE:

We want results on the ground. That’s what interests us as country MPs. 

DOM INGERSOLE:

And with the main focus on small business Michael, we’ll leave the last word to you. What is your vision for small businesses in the next 3-5 years? 

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Well largely for Government to get out of the road to make it as easy as possible for small business to have that pathway to success. The company tax rate is down to 27.5% thanks to our Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan. We’ve set for some of the red tape that burdens small business to be eased. And to have that instant asset write-off used and used well, they can buy the capital equipment they need to make their businesses grow, to enable them to hire more people and to enable them to take advantage of the opportunities that have been made available through the Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, China and Japan. There is more being worked on at the moment. Barnaby Joyce is in the U.K as we speak to talk up Australia’s trade. 

DOM INGERSOLE:

Excellent, so it’s all good news. Federal Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack and Member for Calare Andrew Gee thank you both for your time in the studio this afternoon and best of luck with the dinner tonight. 

ANDREW GEE:

Thanks’ for having us on the show Dom.

Aaron McDonnell