Thanks Steve (Samson, Family Business Australia Chairman) for that welcome and thanks to Family Business Australia for inviting me here today.
This is an important event. Family businesses are important. They make up around seven of every 10 businesses. They employ, on average, 37 workers.
Many of them are small businesses — yet if you were to put them all together, they'd hold more than $4 trillion in wealth.
To me, that makes them an economic powerhouse. But family business folk don't often get that recognition.
The truth is that too few Australians are in on the secret. Too few of them know that family business is one of cogs keeping our economy ticking.
But you can rest assured that the Turnbull Government knows that. And as the new Minister for Small Business, I'll be making sure more Australians know that.
Because, you know what, it's not easy running a family business.
The struggles, the pressure, the sacrifices — they're all amplified when a business is family-owned.
Think about it. The tough task of resolving conflict is made tougher by the deep emotions at stake …
The hard act of succession planning is made harder by the blood, sweat and tears that have been put into it, year after year …
The need to put governance structures in place, the challenges of getting access to capital — none of it is easy.
But family business owners are go-getters. They'll be the first to tell you that they outperform their non-family competitors.
And, more importantly, they know the rewards are great.
Every day, they experience the satisfaction that comes from doing something they've chosen — what they love best.
They experience the happiness that comes from building something with the people they are closest to.
And every day, they know that if they make a success of it — if they work hard — then they'll experience the comfort of knowing they've made their family stronger and safer.
Of course, I don't need to tell any of you that. You all know it — you live it, every day. And you should be celebrated for it.
That's what this Government is doing. We're celebrating the hard work of small businesses across Australia with a big policy agenda to help them grow and succeed.
When small business is strong, so is our country. It's what our mission has been, and will continue to be, to make sure Australia is the best place to start and grow a small business.
And those aren't just nice words. We're matching them with action, as you'd rightly expect.
For proof of this, you only need to look back to the Budget we handed down in May.
On the back of a groundbreaking 2015 Budget — one that had small business owners everywhere cheering — the 2016 Budget was an encore performance.
We announced that we will once again reduce the tax rate for small business — this time from 28.5 to 27.5 per cent — while also extending eligibility to businesses with an annual turnover of up to $10 million
About 870,000 businesses will benefit — businesses which employ more than 3.4 million people.
But the Government also knows many small businesses aren't companies, so we've extended the unincorporated small business tax discount.
The discount will now be available for unincorporated businesses with an annual turnover of less than $5 million — up from $2 million. It will also be increased to 8 per cent.
And in this same vein, we're extending a range of tax concessions and simplified processes to those with an annual turnover of less than $10 million.
So from 1 July this year, over 90,000 more businesses can access these small businesses concessions, including immediate deductibility for each asset costing less than $20,000.
That means if you're a farmer in need of a new mower, you'll benefit.
If you're a café owner in need of new tables and chairs, you'll benefit.
If you're a financial planner in need of a new printer, you'll benefit.
Now that's what I'm talking about when I say this Government is helping small business owners to grow and succeed.
A big agenda
Of course, that's not all we're doing for small business. As I've said, we have a big agenda — too big, unfortunately, to run through today.
But let me quickly take you through some highlights.
We've established the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, whom I know will address this Conference tomorrow morning, to ensure that the hard working women and men of Australia, like yourselves, have someone on your side, working with you, as an ally and an advocate day in and day out.
Kate Carnell is someone who gets small business. In my month – to the day, in fact! – since I was sworn in as the Federal Minister for Small Business, Kate and I have had a number of meetings and discussions and it's clear she shares my passion and the Government's passion to champion small business and be its advocate in the Government and in the community.
That's also why we are simplifying the reporting of Business Activity Statements, which will be available for all small businesses from 1 July next year.
This will make it easier for business owners to classify transactions and prepare their statements. And, ultimately, it will reduce compliance costs for these businesses.
From 12 November, we're also extending to small businesses the protection from unfair contract terms — protection that's currently only available to consumers.
This means that small businesses will shortly be able to have an unfair contract term declared void if — at the time of agreeing to a standard form contract — it has fewer than 20 employees and the contract does not exceed $300,000 or $1 million for contracts longer than 12 months.
It's a safeguard that will give business owners more time — and more resources — to invest in their success, rather than navigating a maze of standard form contract terms.
And the Government will continue its crusade to cut the red tape that bogs down small business.
Three years ago, we committed to reducing the costs of complying with red tape by $1 billion every year. And so far we're well ahead of target, removing more than $4.8 billion worth.
You can also add to that the repeal of over 10,000 legislative instruments and over 3,600 spent and redundant Acts.
Finally, I want to say that it's not just our small family businesses that will benefit from the Government's big agenda.
We're supporting all businesses — large or small, family-run or otherwise.
And Australians can be confident that as we go about lowering taxes, promoting competition, driving innovation and helping young people into work, our economic plan is one that will not only boost growth — it will also deliver the jobs of the future.
Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal
Now before I finish, I wanted to mention the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. As a country MP with a large number of family-owned businesses and owner/operators in my own Riverina electorate, this was a matter in which I took a great interest.
As champions of family businesses, I know this is something your organisation was very passionate about too. Mums and dads across the country were very concerned – rightly – about their businesses and they looked to the Government to be their champion.
That's why the Government abolished the tribunal — proving ourselves as the guardians and champions of small business.
We understood that the tribunal wasn't delivering what it promised. We could see that it was a barrier to truckies — the lifeblood of the nation — being able to get goods to family businesses right across our wide brown land.
I'm proud of that. And because of that, we have committed to redirecting more than $4 million a year to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to help keep our roads safe.
We have also asked the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, to conduct an inquiry into the effect the tribunal order has on small businesses.
Even though we have provided some greater certainty to family businesses through abolishing the Tribunal, I want to make sure that certainty can continue for generations to come.
Importantly, it will also look at ways the Government can work with small businesses on how tribunals and other similar bodies are developed and how they operate.
Let me wrap this up by thanking all of you for welcoming me here today.
It's been a busy few weeks, but I feel energised.
Small business has a bright future. I believe that, and I am 100 per cent committed to shaping that future.
I want all of you to know that as Minister for Small Business, I'll be in your corner all the way.
But I need your help to do that. I want to be your champion and to share the stories of your successes and innovation. And I want you to share those with me. Let me know what's working well and how your family business is going.
Together, we can make sure the success of small business remains a focal point of this Government every day.
As Minister, I will speak loudly and passionately — for small businesses, for family businesses, for each and every one of you in this room now. And I'll relish every moment.
I look forward to working with you and helping to share in your success.