We’ve got the Small Business Minister for Australia, back here, Bruce Billson. He is the latest in a long line of successive visits by Abbott Government Ministers. It is part of the Coalition’s ongoing commitment to the Gold Coast.
Of course, Bruce was the steward of what is the biggest Small Business Package in Australia’s history. It was the Coalition that delivered another tax cut to small business and we provided a $5.5 billion package to the Small Business Sector, which is important to the Gold Coast because we are Australia’s small business capital.
We have got the highest concentration per capita of small businesses in the country. It really is the life blood of our city. Today we are having the opportunity to visit one of the iconic Gold Coast small businesses.
The very type of business that not only do people all across Australia know, but also Gold Coasters know and the kind of business that is a big beneficiary of Gold Coasts, I should say, the Coalition’s Small Business Package.
It is great to be here with Steve Ciobo, a dear friend and I must say; a really trusted adviser about what small business needs because this is the capital of small business in Australia, here on the Gold Coast.
My work is aiming to energise enterprise. I will be meeting with a lot of local small businesses, chambers of commerce, hearing from Peter and Roslyn about their decade’s long journey providing one of the great delights of the Gold Coast.
Really learning more, getting the field evidence from small business men and women to see what else we can do to build on our red-tape reduction and to remove obstacles for small business, getting the right environment in place so that people will invest and grow and also sharing the great news that is in our Small Business Budget Package.
It is great to be back on the Gold Coast, slightly warmer than my home town in Melbourne at the moment. Terrific to hear that there is a spring in the step, the coast has got its mojo back, we are very positive about the upcoming summer season and it is good to get some firsthand advice from people in the field, day in day out providing jobs and economic opportunity for this very important region in our country.
On the ground, what are you hearing?
Really good stories about improved prospects, still challenges there, the Gold Coast has had quite a difficult time recovering from the GFC and other pressures. But the message I am hearing is that occupancy rates are up, the exchange rate is not hurting either, more people looking to visit locally within Australia.
And some good encouragement that small business is front and centre in what the government is doing and that is very reassuring for small business men and women. Many of whom mortgage their homes to provide opportunities for themselves and others and really know that we are on their side and a great ally for them.
Obviously, they have just come through the colder months, are you hearing any struggle stories of struggle?
The news I have heard so far is quite optimistic. Year on year comparisons, quite an appetite to come and be a part of the Gold Coast. I know my micro-humans are five and seven and when they heard daddy was coming to the Gold Coast today, they were wondering why they were not with me.
We have had a cold snap, particularly down South, but there is some positive signs, good business conditions and good business confidence numbers. Plenty of investment resulting from the instant asset right off and above all, everyone is talking about small business.
Steve and I think we should be talking about small business every day and we do. But that is what small business men and women need to know that the government is very attuned to their needs and we see small business at the heart of our economic and job prospects for the future.
Any observations from the locals on the effect on penalty rates and hospitality?
We have just started a conversation about those kinds of issues. It is important to appreciate an essential pre-condition for someone to have a job; to have a shift is that the business be viable.
That is where we have already seen in the restaurant and catering industry some advocacy by the industry to say, we are really keen to reward people well, to pay them well, but we need to be able to be viable to keep our doors open so that we can make that opportunity for work and to delight customers a possibility.
Can you talk us through a little bit of the package, the Small Business Package?
There is a number of measures, the ones that are going to attract the most attention are the $20,000 instant asset right-off. Now, that means for business related purchases, a piece of kit or equipment or some new technology, you can treat that as an expense in the year in which you purchase it rather than have it depreciated over a number of years.
A lot of people have taken up that invitation to turn an idea into economic action to make that investment, to gear up their business and find new ways of delighting their customers. There is also an important statement around how important we see small business.
The small business company tax rates have been reduced to the lowest it has been since 1967. Really big statement about our encouragement and recognising rewards are important to get people to take risks and to invest.
But two-thirds of small businesses are not structured as companies, so we also have a discount available for those two-thirds of small businesses. They are your Tony’s Tradies, your self-employed, your businesses operating through partnerships and trusts.
Then we are looking at ways of reducing the costs of setting up a business so that people with that enterprise ambition know that this is the time to turn that idea and that interest into economic activity.
Other things we are working on; restoring employee share schemes, something that was really harmed under the previous Labor Government, putting that back in place so that you can align the business’s objectives with that of the team. And getting other avenues of finance, Crowd Source Equity Funding, getting the framework in place for that.
There is lots of moving parts, $5.5 billion investment at a time where we are also repairing the budget. Really big statement about our priorities and our goals and what we think is in the best interests of our country.
Optimism and confidence, are they words you are hearing?
Yeah I am, more so. We have still got work to do because just like small business men and women, as the Minister and as the local member for the capital of small business, Steve Ciobo knows, we need to work as hard for small business success as small business men and women do.
Some good signs, the most recent National Australia Bank business conditions and business confidence measures are at a real up tip. We are also seeing good signs in the building industry; visitor numbers are encouraging as well.
There is actually the highest number of businesses being formed now and interestingly, it is more women than men. You are seeing a real energised, enterprised culture. Entrepreneurship is a key to our economic future and that is why we are putting such effort into this area of our economy, small business, and family enterprises.