30 January 2017
Transcript - #2017001, 2017

Interview with Matt Tukaki, Second Career 2UE

SUBJECTS: Government’s Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan; tax cuts and red tape reduction; Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman; Government procurement for small business.

PRESENTER:

Small business is the great driver. It is the engine that drives our economy and you’ve got the Minister on the line, Matt?

TUKAKI:

We have – and here’s the interesting thing… every day an Army of Australians take to the streets and in the back lanes and roads of our country. They open their doors, they crank up the coffee machines, they put the open signs out and do all they can to keep those very doors open. And – you know what – it’s a struggle for a lot of them. Now we are going to be joined on the show by Federal Small Business Minister Michael McCormack to talk all things small business and why it’s been such a large focus for the Government, as well as where the opportunities are. Minister, welcome to the show.

McCORMACK:

Good afternoon.

TUKAKI:

Now, I understand you’re somewhere in country South Australia?

McCORMACK:

No – country New South Wales.

TUKAKI:

Country New South Wales – is that right?

McCORMACK:

Yeah, and it’s absolutely teeming with rain here, in fact there’s a blackout as I speak. Sometimes they often say politicians are in the dark – well I certainly am at the moment …

[LAUGHS]

McCORMACK:

…But I am doing this interview by feel!

TUKAKI:

Oh, mate. Good call! Good call! Let’s get straight into it, because it’s going to be a big year, 2017 by its very nature appears to be a bit of a crackerjack for Australia. Now, several years ago the Government came out with a big package of reforms to push small business growth along. How are we going with that?

McCORMACK:

Well, look, it is going to be an exciting year, as you say. We are going pretty well, actually. We have some really good initiatives and policies before the Parliament at the moment – the Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan, where we are trying to lower the company tax rate to 27.5 per cent – to give 90,000 more businesses, like those you mentioned in your intro, the ability to take advantage of the instant asset write-off. To take advantage of the lowering of the company tax rate and all the other things that go with being classified as a small business. We’ve got section 46 – the competition review – that’s in the Parliament at the moment. That’s really important. There is so much going on and I am looking forward to it. It’s going to be an exciting year. And there is any number of people who are telling me this year is going to be the year they will start their small business – that they are going to take the big plunge – as I go around and collect anecdotal evidence across the countryside, so it’s good.

TUKAKI:

We had Christopher Pyne on the show the other week and Paul Fletcher and we got to talking also about the immense investment in infrastructure the Government is embarking on. We’ve got the Defence budget, we’ve got everything that’s going on in infrastructure – from roads to bridges to the Badgerys Creek Airport – we tend to forget, don’t we, the suppliers that end up on the supply chain from these projects are small business.

McCORMACK:

Oh, indeed. And 34 per cent – more than a third – of Government goods and services, that’s federally, are taken up by small businesses and I would like to see that number, as a percentage and as a number of small businesses, actually increase. Small business can do even better out of Government and the fact we are really investing heavily into Defence, into other areas, into infrastructure all those sorts of things – and not just in metropolitan areas but indeed in regional areas too, where the engine room of the economy is small business – that’s really exciting and they can take advantage of those procurement processes. What I would urge they do is go and have a look at the business.gov.au website and see where they can take advantage of it.

TUKAKI:

Well let’s just stay with our rural and regional economies as well. I mean, as somebody who grew up on a farm, someone from a regional background myself, we are talking about a huge opportunity, aren’t we? We are seeing a recovery when it comes to the agricultural sector and horticulture and all that, so what more can we be doing to support our regional growth?

McCORMACK:

Well, I would like to see the Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan pass the Parliament, and actually there’s a bit of a road block at the moment – it’s called the opposition. I would really like to see it pass through the Parliament. It’s really important. I mean, small business is the engine room of the economy. 97 per cent of all businesses are small businesses. They employ five million Australians and contribute $340 billion to our economy. So it’s crucial they get any tax break they can and that’s what the Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan does. I know we are talking about second careers today – I appreciate your programme is focused on that – and there are any number of people who are looking to start that second career. And, you know, there are grants available. I would urge people again to visit the business.gov.au website, have a look at the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman website. Kate Carnell is doing a fantastic job as the Ombudsman and there are some really good things on that website to indicate what is available there. TUKAKI: Just briefly – Kate Carnell, mate, she’s a great friend of this show. We have her on quite a bit.

McCORMACK:

Indeed.

TUKAKI:

And we’ve started this new segment called “Let’s bust red tape” and that’s a big thing. I mean Kate – when she was on the show only a few weeks ago – was talking about the endless length of time that it takes big business to actually pay smaller business. I mean, in some cases it’s often 90 days or more.

McCORMACK:

Yeah, look, indeed. And that is also a focus. It’s been a focus of Kate’s and it’s a focus of mine too. I think we need to make sure that big business – and certainly Government has shown the way, we are paying people on time or we are paying interest – and certainly I think big business needs to do the same. They shouldn’t use small businesses as a bank and Kate has been fierce in her determination to ensure that there’s a good change in that respect. So – again – I urge everybody to have a look at her organisation’s website. As well as, obviously, we are rolling out the National Business Simplification Initiative. It’s a trial at the moment – in the hospitality sector in the Parramatta area – and I know it will be a success. And when it is I think that needs to be rolled out right across the nation and I am sure it will be. It’s a very positive plan to cut through some of that red tape you mentioned.

TUKAKI:

So, you’re chief small business guy, right – that’s what we’re going to call you now – 2017, we’ve just started the new year. What would your bit of inspirational advice be for our audience?

McCORMACK:

Have a go! There’s no better time – with the interest rates being so low, you can borrow money. We have a Federal Government in there wanting to back you all the way with innovation, with real grants – they’re available on our website; there are state grants available – get in and have a go. Have a search around those websites I mentioned. They will walk you through the process and take that break you have always wanted to and start up a business. There are so many success stories right across the nation – large and small – small country towns and metropolitan cities where people have done the right thing by themselves and decided to actually go into small business and have really, really appreciated the change to be the master of their own destiny and certainly getting involved and making good money. And as you say, there’s good money to be made in agriculture, there’s good money to be made in regional areas at the moment – the cost of living is lower. But also in the suburbs in metropolitan areas there’s some real opportunities available and we have a Federal Government concentrating on small business, concentrating on innovation, we’re spending a lot of money in Defence, in infrastructure and in lots of other areas where small businesses can take full advantage by procuring some of those goods and services the Government is needing, wanting and demanding and expecting. So get involved, get on board.

TUKAKI:

Have a go! Now I never thought we would find a Minister as bubbly as Bruce Billson in the small business portfolio but I think we just found him!

McCORMACK:

You know, you’ve got to be fired up.

TUKAKI:

You do.

McCORMACK:

And I’m fired up. I ran a small business for eight years. I started in my garage and we had $1,800 turnover for the first three months. Myself and my business partners were quite proud of that and my wife said, “that’s not going to pay for three families!”

TUKAKI:

[LAUGHS]

McCORMACK:

Yeah, but after 18 months or so we were turning over more than $1 million.

TUKAKI:

Wow.

McCORMACK:

Yeah, employing people and doing all sorts of things. And there’s no better time to do it than now – with the interest rates low, the Federal Government concentrating, committed to helping small business and there’s no better time to energise enterprise.

TUKAKI:

Michael McCormack, Small Business Minister in the Australian Government, somewhere in country New South Wales, thanks for joining us today.

McCORMACK:

Anytime.