Good morning. Thank you for the welcome and thank you to Stuart (Henry, Executive Director of the Plumbing Products Industry Group) for inviting me here today. It's great to be here on behalf of the Prime Minister.
I welcome you to Parliament House and would like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples who are the traditional custodians of the Canberra area and pay respect to the elders, past and present, of all Australia's Indigenous peoples.
This is an important industry.
The Australian Plumbing industry makes a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of Australians with respect to ensuring the built environment is well served by effective plumbing, potable water, hot water systems, effective sanitation and removal of waste water.
More broadly, the construction activity is important to the Australian economy.
I know we have large and small businesses here today but as the Minister for Small Business, I never miss a chance to reiterate the contribution small business makes to the economy.
In 2014-15, small businesses comprised 99 per cent of businesses in the construction industry (over 341,000), providing employment for almost 730,000 workers (70 per cent).
Construction activity also supports other industries in the supply chain.
Plumbing Products Industry (PPI) Group
The PPI Group represents an important group of businesses and focuses on working to ensure the environment in which you operate is conducive to efficient business.
The PPI Group is also an active participant in national forums and discussions on major issues, and I appreciate this contribution.
Small Business Tax
The Government's policy settings are supporting business to thrive and grow.
As part of the 2016-17 Budget, the Government announced that the small business tax rate will be lowered to 27.5 per cent and the turnover threshold for small businesses able to access it will be increased from $2 million to $10 million.
Increasing this threshold will provide support for over 90,000 additional businesses to expand and grow.
These businesses will now be able to access small business tax concessions, such as accelerated depreciation provisions (including immediate deductibility for assets costing less than $20,000 acquired before 30 June 2017), simplified trading stock rules and Pay-As-You-Go instalments payment option.
The Government is also increasing the unincorporated small business tax discount to 8 per cent and extending the annual turnover threshold for eligibility from $2 million to $5 million.
This builds on the 2015-16 Budget measures in which the Government provided small businesses with support through the Growing Jobs and Small Business package.
It was this package that first reduced the corporate tax rate by 1.5 percentage points for small companies (from 30 per cent to 28.5 per cent) and introduced a 5 per cent tax discount, capped at $1,000, for unincorporated small businesses as well as immediate deductibility for assets that cost less than $20,000.
Australian Apprenticeships – building on solid foundations
Australian Apprenticeships allow employers to develop highly-skilled and qualified workers who meet their specific business needs. They also provide individuals with a structured earning and learning pathway into a long-term career.
Apprentices and trainees enjoy excellent employment outcomes. For example, for trade apprentice and trainee outcomes, more than 90 per cent of graduates are employed after training.
The fundamentals of the system remain strong. Apprenticeships have strong support and industry buy-in.
On the back of first term reforms, including the introduction of Trade Support Loans and new services through the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network, the Government is now considering further reforms to strengthen our apprenticeship system.
Cutting red tape
Reducing red tape and regulations will enhance competition, decrease business costs and give business owners more time to run and grow their business.
Decisions the Government has taken has removed $4.8 billion in red tape, as at 31 December 2015. This exceeds the original commitment to reduce red tape by at least $3 billion.
The Government is broadening the Regulatory Reform Agenda to focus on regulation reforms that directly enhance innovation, competitiveness and productivity.
We are living in a truly global marketplace and there has never been a better time to start and grow a global business.
Export markets offer businesses new pathways to sustainable growth. They also create jobs.
We have secured agreements with China, Korea, and Japan. More jobs, more exports of products and services and a more prosperous economy. That is what the Government is delivering for Australian businesses.
Along with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Australian Government is moving to ratify as soon as possible, these agreements will allow businesses across the economy to capitalise on the rapid growth of the middle class in our region.
They build on the existing network of FTAs with countries such as the United States and Singapore.
Again, thank you for having me here today. I know the future of your industry is very bright and the passion and dedication you have for it will see more success and growth into the future.
I wish you all the best with your Conference in Canberra.