11 May 2017
Transcript - #2017026, 2017

Interview with Julie Clift, ABC Central West

PRESENTER:

We’re joined this morning by Minister for Small Business and the Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack.

Good morning Michael McCormack…

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Hi Julie, well yes this budget is all about small business Julie and there’s been a 12 month extension to the $20,000 instant asset write-off.

Now as I go out and about the Riverina and Central West, there are some 15,000 small businesses in this fantastic region and that’s what I’ve been hearing, they wanted the ability to instantly write off capital equipment to help them get more customers through the door, to improve productivity and efficiency and indeed, as one small business told me, to boost staff morale. So it was just a tremendous thing for the budget.

The definition of a small business has also changed from that of $2 million to that of $10 million and there’s going to be less tax paid by small business. The tax rate for businesses with a turnover of $10 million has been reduced to 27.5%, the lowest it’s been for many many decades.

Also, from 1 July BAS is going to be simplified. So anyone that has ever filled out a business activity statement knows there’s seven items that need to be filled out. Now businesses will only have to fill out details on GST, sales, purchases and total sales and there’s also the $300 million incentive for the States and Territories to cut red tape for small business.

So there are some really good things in the budget. It was, as the Treasurer said, a budget of fairness, opportunity and security, but indeed it was also a budget for small business.

PRESENTER:

What about the news that there is no new money for mobile blackspots and the people that are concerned about the data drought? Obviously it impacts on more than just small business, but certainly small business suffers because of the lack of connectivity.

McCORMACK:

I accept that. I accept that mobile blackspots are a huge issue right throughout regional Australia but there is ongoing funding for mobile blackspots and we’ve already poured out $220 million for this program, as opposed to not one cent by the previous government.

There’s also been 765 mobile phone towers erected or in the stage of construction and so that program is continuing and there is an emphasis right across regional Australia that communities let their local members knows about areas which are in need of mobile black spot funding. Not that we need telling, because quite frankly, particularly National and regional Liberal Party MPs, we drive around the regions, our electorates all the time. I understand the issue, like last weekend I drove almost 1000km around the region! Round 3 of the program includes $60 million which will be, later this year is going to be announced, so mobile black spot funding is ongoing.

PRESENTER:

It is disappointing that no additional money has been allocated though?

McCORMACK:

I’m sure as the economy grows and as this budget tracks well to get the debt down, and I know how vociferous and how vocal the National Party and regional Liberal MPs are about this issue. So we will ensure that mobile blackspot funding continues to be a priority going forward.

PRESENTER:

What about the NBN? We have been hearing from the Minister for Regional Communications, Senator Fiona Nash that she’s been lobbying for better internet services to alleviate concerns about the so called data drought, again this impacts on small business, but certainly it is an issue for small businesses trying to keep up in a modern world.

McCORMACK:

Well, certainly the Coalition is committed to delivering the National Broadband Network. It is an enabler; it is connecting communities to the rest of the world. We are committed to ensuring that all Australians have access to the rest of the world and that’s why the government is investing in $29.5 billion in equity in the NBN and will provide a commercial loan of up to $19.5 billion to NBN to be repaid by June 2021.

We acknowledge how important the roll out is, that’s why we put those communities that weren’t well served by ADSL or other connections, we put them first, we put them at the top of the list, and the fastest roll out of the NBN is in the Riverina and were connecting communities as we speak.

There are communities linking up with this vital communications network and we know how important this is and this is why we’re supporting this project.

PRESENTER:

Twenty five past seven here on ABC Central West, we’re taking a further look at the budget which was unveiled by the Treasurer on Tuesday evening. We’re doing that with Michael McCormack, Riverina MP and Minister for Small Business.

Minister, I just want to pick up on one point, we haven’t heard too much about. Andrew Gee, the Member for Calare spoke ahead of the budget being unveiled about the Regional Investment Corporation and his bid to have it based in Calare. I understand there was discussion within the budget that this is definitely going to happen. As in the Regional Investment Corporation is going to be formed, do we know anything more about it and what can you tell us about possible locations?

McCORMACK:

Can’t tell you about possible locations, that’s outside my remit. I do know how committed Andrew Gee is to making sure that that particular funding program, that innovative look at how we do things in regional Australia is going to be at the forefront of this government and certainly of the Nationals.

I can tell you that the government is providing $472.2 million over four years from next financial year to establish a Regional Growth Fund and it will include $272.2 million to provide grants of $10.0 million or more for major transformational projects which support long-term economic growth and perhaps even more importantly, create jobs. This budget is all about jobs and jobs in the regions, especially for communities undergoing structural adjustment.

Also within the Regional Growth Fund is $200 million for the Building Better Regions Fund and I know how many local governments across the Central West and Riverina have taken advantage of that and I know the projects funded by this type of fund, such as the Parkes airport, the Forbes saleyards, really good projects, transformational projects, which support long term economic growth and even more importantly, they create jobs. The Federal Government is all about jobs!

The infrastructure projects stream supports projects that involve construction of new infrastructure or the upgrade or extension of existing amenities and facilities. The Federal Government’s community investments stream funds community development activities and this, again is under the Building Better Regions Fund, including new and expanded local events and having been to the Trundle ABBA festival the other day and the Parkes Elvis festival earlier this year, I understand how much community capacity is created by these sorts of wonderful events.

PRESENTER:

We’re approaching the news, if I can quickly just ask you, you mentioned that the budget is all about jobs, and you’ve talked a lot about fairness and giving everyone a fair go. Is it fair that the temporary levy on high income earners will be let go of, but others have to pay more tax to pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

McCORMACK:

Look we need to protect Australia’s most vulnerable and the more you earn, the more you pay and that’s fair, and look seeing as you’re going to the news I really want to let your listeners know that the 128 schools across the Riverina electorate are going to receive a needs based funding boost, so each and every one of those schools will be better off under the schools funding program that we are rolling out. The schools, the principals, the staff, the parents, but most important of all, the students are going to benefit from this very fair rollout of education funding.

It’s a great budget. It’s good for small business, good for schools, good for regional growth and finally, I’m pleased that the freeze on indexation of Financial Assistance Grants has been lifted and half of next year’s funding allocation has been brought forward. It’s a very good budget.

PRESENTER:

We’ll leave it there, the news is upon us. Thanks very much.

McCORMACK:

Thanks Julie.

PRESENTER:

There we have it, Michael McCormack, Minister for Small Business and Member for Riverina.