Minister, I just wanted to touch on a few things mentioned at your Chamber of Commerce meeting this morning. A big one for this region and also the Lockyer Valley region is water security in terms of small business and the ag sector. So what can be done? I know in the Lockyer Valley, for instance, their dams are at 10 per cent. They are going to have to start paying more to irrigate from there using groundwater. What can be done?
Well I understand – coming from a regional area myself – the importance of water storage infrastructure. I understand the importance of flood mitigation. And that’s why the National Party, that’s why the Federal Government, has a policy to absolutely make sure we increase water capacity. That we increase and fund water storage. We are doing that.
It is a competitive tender process and we are calling for submissions. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, the Agriculture and Water Resources Minister, is calling for submissions to make sure this happens. We are well aware of the need for water infrastructure and where it is most needed.
And I know that David Littleproud is fighting very hard to see some of that funding come to the Lockyer Valley. I know David Littleproud is fighting for more water infrastructure funding for this area. And as the Federal Government, the Coalition Government, we understand how important it is. Not just for growing food, but also for flood mitigation. Also for water security when times get very, very dry – as they have around here for a long, long time. And that is why David Littleproud and the LNP are in there fighting, making sure the voices of these regions are heard. And to make sure we are rolling out the water infrastructure fund money through feasibility studies, through environmental impact statements. And, as well, we are looking to make sure we increase water storage in the future.
So there are plans underway. Any in this area? Anywhere you can name in terms of getting water infrastructure here?
I know that is certainly on the desk of Barnaby Joyce – the Agriculture and Water Resources Minister – at the moment. Obviously water storage and infrastructure is of great importance nationally. And so they need to look at all the submissions that come in to evaluate them, obviously to do feasibility studies, to see what we can and where we will fund these facilities in the future.
Another topic we have been talking about a lot has been moving more people to the country. A lot of people in this area are interested in this. What would you say to those people looking at moving home?
I know when David Littleproud goes to Canberra representing Maranoa he fights hard for decentralisation. The National Party and the LNP more generally are in there fighting hard to make sure many of the public servants’ positions can also be done right here in the regions.
That’s why the decentralisation Senate inquiry today, in Canberra, will hear just that. They will hear the fact that country communities and the LNP want more of these public servants to work in the regions. They will hear that more of these agencies need to come to the regions. Housing affordability, transport, all those lifestyle options, are so much better here in the regions and the lifestyle and the cost of living is something capital city people need to understand.
There are options available out here in the regions. You just have to look for them. The Nationals are in there, the LNP is in there, fighting hard to make sure that is a fact. That the country way of life and opportunities are well known. And the fact that the cities should understand there are jobs out here. You just have to look and we will be doing everything we can – via our decentralisation policies – to support more people to leave the cities and come out here to set up in the regions where family lifestyle options, where cost of living factors, are so much better than in the capital cities.
I just wanted to discuss a problem we are having in Toowoomba at the moment. Obviously Toowoomba is growing at a very fast pace. We have all these big retailers – you know, major shopping centres, hardware stores – everyone is coming to town. We are doing it tough and each week there’s a story of another small business closing. So what can be done to help them?
Well there are some great options for small business starting up in the regions, and even for established small businesses. That’s why we are lowering the company tax rate for small business. To 27.5 per cent for small businesses right up to $10 million turnover.
We understand just because you – in the past – you were turning over somewhere between $2 and $10m, that doesn’t mean that is what you are taking home. Anyone in small business knows that’s your turnover but it’s not what you’re actually taking home.
So that’s why we are lowering the company tax rate. That’s why we are making BAS simpler. That’s why we are cutting through a lot of the red tape for small business. We are lifting the burden from small business to make sure it has the best chance of success, especially regionally.
We understand that these people need to be given a bit of a hand-up to have a go. They’re the risk takers. It’s not Government that creates the jobs, it’s small business. It is small business which is creating employment. It is creating the wealth. And certainly we as a Coalition Government – the LNP – are fighting hard to make sure that we give them every tax break, to make sure their paperwork is simpler, to make sure their BAS is easier to do, to make sure their red tape burden is lifted.
We are in there fighting hard for them. We are backing small business all the way. Because they are the people having a go for and on behalf of regional Australia.
Would you say sometimes small businesses, though, do need to lift their game? To be more competitive?
We’re helping them to lift their game. We’re opening export opportunities. We’re lowering the company tax cut to 27.5 per cent. We are making more businesses eligible for the instant asset write-off. We are simplifying their BAS.
And look, there are so many opportunities there for small business. They are the risk-takers. We want to back them. We are. And we will continue to do so.