With over 4.5 million Australians employed in small businesses, today's release of the Intergenerational Report marks an important day for the hard working, enterprising women and men of small business.
The Intergenerational Report shows us where we have come from as a nation and where we are now in an economic and demographic context. It does this by providing an analysis of key drivers of our economy – population, participation and productivity.
Importantly, when it comes to participation and productivity, small business will be critical in driving greater participation amongst Australians in the workforce. We know that most small business owners are self-employed and have a history of providing a flexible work environment. This means small businesses can support greater involvement from older Australians and women with children in our workforce.
The 2015 report also examines what the projected changes may be over the next forty years and what these mean for our standard of living.
It highlights the challenges our nation will face with slower economic growth than we have had in the past due to our ageing population.
Importantly for enterprising Australians, the report also identifies many small business opportunities that will result from us living longer.
It is wonderful to know that Australians are living longer, better lives. This means as a nation we must be set to support this great news. We need to take steps today to care for our future.
Many Australian small businesses operate in the areas of disability, health and aged care which means an ageing population can bring enormous opportunities in the services sector. Today's intergenerational report indicates these sectors are expected to grow much more rapidly than the rest of the economy.
Technological change also presents a world of opportunities for small business and I imagine there will be others we can't foresee during the next forty years.
Australian small businesses have an extraordinary track record of being agile and early adopters of new technology and innovative practices. I am certain this means they will be best placed to grasp these opportunities.
Small businesses, representing the vast majority of businesses in Australia, will have a critical role to play in lifting productivity and workforce participation so that we maintain the improvements in living standards we have been accustomed to.
Our Economic Action Strategy has already introduced measures to support innovation for small businesses such as Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Programme, Industry Growth Centres, the Research and Development Tax Incentive and our Employee Share Scheme measures. With our red tape reductions, we are also removing roadblocks to entrepreneurship.
Our economic strategy, aligned with today's report, will continue to promote participation and productivity.
Our Government has the plan to ensure our best days are ahead of us. I welcome this report and will continue to work to ensure the settings are right for Australian small business make the most of our future opportunities.