22 May 2015
Transcript - #2015059, 2015

Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB Sydney

SUBJECTS: Budget - Small Business Package; small business awards idea

BEN FORDHAM:

Bruce Billson is the Small Business Minister and he is on the line right now. Minister good afternoon to you.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Ben best wishes to you and your listeners and how is Freddy going?

BEN FORDHAM:

Freddy is fantastic.

MINISTER BILLSON:

He is a good looking Rooster. I wonder where he gets that from?

BEN FORDHAM:

You are very kind for asking Minister. I was just playing some audio of a Coalition MP encouraging Scott Morrison to kick the, well hang on a moment let me get the beep ready, to kick the [beep] out of an ABC microphone.

You would not condone that would you?

MINISTER BILLSON:

No I would not. You have got to look after those tax payer funded assets. You cannot be reckless and that is part of what we have got the Budget repair task about, not wasting money and targeting where it is needed and that is all about the enterprising men and women of small business.

BEN FORDHAM:

Funnily enough that is why I have got you on this afternoon.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Did you like that segue? I thought that was pretty good.

BEN FORDHAM:

I did like that. You are bringing it back to the topic of our discussion which is small business.

Just a couple of examples. I took my crew here from the radio show out to dinner last night because we were talking about a week or so ago about a restaurant in Sydney by the name of Bill and Tony’s which is an institution, an Italian restaurant in Darlinghurst that I have been going to all my life with mum and dad.

It is cheap and cheerful but beautiful food and while we were there last night, because I was amazed that they did not know about Bill and Tony’s, I said to one of the proprietors – I said listen I am 38 now, I think I have been coming here about 36 years, how long have you been here?

41 years. A couple of Italians who decided ‘righto we are going to start up the business’- Bill and Tony, funnily enough. Tony I do not think hung around for too long, but Bill and the others have 41 years going strong. Great small business.

This is one of many examples of people out there having a go and I have found out courtesy of Mark Bouris, the boss of Yellow Brick Road the executive chairman, that he has apparently put some pressure on you.

I do not know whether he has given you a Chinese burn or put you in a headlock- but he has got you to make a commitment about setting up the Prime Minister’s Small Business Awards. Tell me about it.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Yes well we are onto it because the Budget was about getting the right incentives and right acknowledgement in place to let enterprising people like Bill and Tony get on with what they do best and that is create opportunities for themselves, their families and the country.

When I was talking with Mark, we thought we should do this at another level. We sort of hero worship our sporting champions and that is ok, they are achieving excellence in their fields. But this is happening right across our economy.

You have got courageous men and women mortgaging their houses and their first born to get the resources to have a go, to start a business, to create opportunities, to offer jobs and livelihood potential for others in their community. Let us celebrate that. Let us really lift that.

So there is a few awards around. I was talking to Mark about how maybe we could pull a few of those strands of recognition together and really celebrate small business people that are the backbone of our economy and frankly, they are the hope of our economic future because it is their new ideas, their innovations, their ability to adapt and delight to new customer needs that will really set our country up for the future.

BEN FORDHAM:

We do from time to time stop as a nation and recognise scientists and sports people and people who help in the community in areas where they are volunteering and such but small business is a very small sector in actual shopfronts but when you look at the entire economy it is the backbone of the Australian economy.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Yes absolutely. We are talking about $330 billion worth of economic activity but a bit over 4 of every 10 jobs offered in the private sector is offered by a small business.

If you look across this vast continent and you look at the communities that are not blessed to have a mine or a tower of banking workers or whatever, it is small businesses and family enterprises that drive those economies that give people a chance for a livelihood in their own neighbourhood.

And we need to do more to recognise them and that is why even when we had a tough Budget repair task Ben, to be able to secure $5.5 billion to put those tax incentives, that encouragement, that catalyst so that people with an idea or an opportunity turn that thinking into action and then create jobs and economic growth through that.

That is the thinking that is there. Mark and I were talking about how we can elevate that entrepreneurship and maybe we go to a few debutante balls or coming out balls and everyone wants to be a footy player or in the media because they are handsome Roosters like you. Maybe we would like to hear more young people saying…

BEN FORDHAM:

Mark Bouris says we could do it on Australia day or the Queen’s Birthday. Let us have a day to celebrate small business owners and make it a proud day. Let us televise it. Let us make a big deal about it. Imagine this, a small business owner in Frankston, Victoria in a strip of shops, he has been there for 40 years. Struggles, struggles, struggles but has managed to keep the doors open. He receives a lifetime award from the Prime Minister which recognises his achievements for our economic community.

I think it is a terrific idea and I know from personal experience because my brother does a bit of work with Mark Bouris. I know how forceful and convincing he can be when he has got an idea and he reckons that you should get up and going. Now how do you convince the Prime Minister?

MINISTER BILLSON:

We are going to get amongst it because he has been a Small Business Minister himself. He has been out amongst the small business community. Without that respect and appreciation we would not have been able to find the Budget space for that fantastic Small Business Budget Package.

BEN FORDHAM:

True.

MINISTER BILLSON:

I think we are lining the ducks up. Are you on board Ben?

BEN FORDHAM:

Absolutely. I will host it. I will do whatever you want to get it going.

MINISTER BILLSON:

If you are there and Mark is there and I am there, I reckon it will not be too hard to pick the odd one out who is not the thinking woman’s crumpet. Let us have a go at in anyway.

BEN FORDHAM:

Well, ok. That is an interesting one Minister. Thank you.

There is a bloke in Redfern where I live called Roger the Shoe Repair Man. Someone from Redfern will be able to email me and tell me how long Roger has been there. I do not want to insult him but I think he might have been there 150 years because he is like the concrete in Redfern or the trees, he is just part of the furniture and part of the establishment and he is a hero. He is a local hero in my neighbourhood. And we have discussed this before when I have mentioned Roger and got people to call in and nominate other local heroes who have been there forever and we would be stuck without them.

Congratulations on this initiative. Well done to Mark Bouris for getting it started as well and I am happy to throw my support behind it in any way, shape or form.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Great thanks Ben. Best wishes to Freddy, he might be the next generation of entrepreneur.

BEN FORDHAM:

You are a good man. Thank you very much.

MINISTER BILLSON:

Take it easy.

BEN FORDHAM:

Bruce Billson who does a great job as the Small Business Minister and had a lead role in helping Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey come up with that Budget measure that became branded Tony’s tradies.