13 May 2015
Transcript - #2015051, 2015

Interview with James Bennett, ABC TV, Capital Hill

SUBJECTS: Budget 2015 - Jobs and Small Business Package

JAMES BENNETT:

Bruce Billson, how many jobs will this package create?

MINISTER BILLSON:

We have got to recover the 519,000 jobs lost in small business under the previous Labor Government.

That is our first ambition– recover those jobs that were lost under Labor; put those livelihoods back into the economy and then build the momentum so that small businesses decide what their capacity is to grow, to recruit more.

We are enabling that environment and then we are working with the small business community.

JAMES BENNETT:

You are spending billions of dollars on this, surely there must be some government modelling on how many jobs you expect this will create.

MINISTER BILLSON:

What we are keen to do is get those conditions right. I am not going to give you a precise number because that is not within my gift to give you. This is about supporting small businesses with an inclination to recruit, to actually turn that into action with an ambition to grow their business, to turn that into economic activity.

It is about enabling small businesses to make that decision for themselves with the support and encouragement of the Government. That is what we are on about and that is what our longer term agenda is.

JAMES BENNETT:

Accelerated depreciation – claim any business expense immediately up to $20,000. How much is that going to cost?

MINISTER BILLSON:

We have already got that tax infrastructure in place. There has already been an ability to instantly write-off asset purchases up to $1000.

Remember Labor had a bit of a scheme too as they tried to put a sweetener on the table to deal with the sourness of  some of their new taxes like the Mining and Carbon Taxes and the removal of a tax incentive for small business. They put something on the table, it was not funded and it was designed to distract people from other harm.

This is sitting alongside a tax reduction, a tax incentive for small business for $20,000 there for each and every purchase for a small business with a turnover of under $2 million.

JAMES BENNETT:

Who qualifies?

MINISTER BILLSON:

It is all small businesses with a turnover of under $2 million. That is 96% of Australian businesses which qualify for this measure.

In addition to that measure, there is also some specific depreciation opportunities for the farming sector as well.

JAMES BENNETT:

Just to particularise that, obtaining an ABN is a 10-minute exercise on the internet. That has got to be vulnerable to rorting is it not? How will you police this?

MINISTER BILLSON:

There are checks and balances and you need to be actively trading. So having an ABN is one part of it, you actually need to be involved in economic activity.

JAMES BENNETT:

It is a minimum amount of money that needs to come through?

MINISTER BILLSON:

You need to be an active business which is with an ABN and lodging BAS returns and the like with the Tax Office. All perfectly familiar, common and existing arrangements.

The small business community and the accountants and those that are advising them know of these existing arrangements. This is an enormous incentive for them to see an opportunity and to move on it.

JAMES BENNETT:

According to the ABS, some 40% of small businesses between 2003 and 2007 failed. You are depending on this sector for economic growth, for revenue growth – what happens if they fail?

MINISTER BILLSON:

We are getting the environment, the entrepreneurial ecosystem right. That is why removing the Carbon Tax was important.

That is why our red tape reduction agenda which takes people away from their business to do the business of government, that is why that is important. That is why we are doing work on the competitive environment so it is fair and healthy.

That is what franchising reform was about, unfair contract terms, right to repair, the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct – it is all about getting that entrepreneurial ecosystem, the environment within which small businesses operate, to be as supportive and as encouraging as possible.

It is not within my gift to make every business succeed and enterprising people know that.

JAMES BENNETT:

So what does success look like? Is it a drop in the unemployment rate?

MINISTER BILLSON:

That is our ambition, but you know at the moment we are seeing three times the job creation rate in the first year of the Abbott Government than we saw under the last year of Labor.

We have got record numbers of businesses starting. We are seeing some encouraging signs in housing and construction, in retail, in hospitality. We are seeing export volumes increase. We have got trade agreements that open the door to hundreds of millions of new prospective customers.

We have got more women than blokes starting businesses now – Mumpreneurs turning their spare bedroom into an enterprise.

This is a great time to be engaged in wealth creation and nurturing opportunities.

JAMES BENNETT:

Bruce Billson thank you for your time.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Thanks James.