15 May 2017
Transcript - #2017027, 2017

Doorstop with Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett, Bundaberg

Topics: 2017 Budget, Small business tax cuts; small business roadshow

McCORMACK

It’s tremendous to be here in Bundaberg this morning with my LNP colleague Steve Bennett and in the Member for Hinkler, Keith Pitt’s Electorate.  Keith Pitt is on ministerial duties in China and it’s certainly important that he fulfils those commitments for and on the behalf of the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but perhaps more importantly for and on behalf of the people of Bundaberg and wider Hinkler Electorate. He is doing a fantastic job in the trade area, in the tourism area. I know as a regional colleague of mine what a fantastic job he does for the small businesses in his area and wider Queensland.

We’ve had a forum here today in Bundaberg as part of the National Small Business Roadshow and that’s a forum which is going around the country with the ACCC, with the Australian Taxation Office and with the office of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman. We had Dr Craig Latham the Deputy Chair of the  Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman at the roundtable today and we heard from around 30 local small businesses the challenges they face but also the opportunities the Federal Government has provided. Of course on Budget Day last Tuesday we lowered the company tax rate to 27.5 per cent – the lowest it has been for many, many decades.

We’ve also redefined what is a small business – previously it was up to a $2 million turnover, now it’s up to a $10 million turnover. This recognises that just because you might be turning over five and a half million dollars, doesn’t mean to say that you’re profiting by that margin. We understand small business is the backbone of the economy. We understand just how hard small businesses are working for themselves but indeed to help pay back some of the debt we inherited as a government when we took over in 2013. But on Budget night the instant asset write-off – the ability for a small business to buy capital equipment and write it off instantly – was extended by a further 12 months. It was extended by 12 months because this Small Business Roadshow listened to what small businesses in Central Queensland indeed right throughout this great state, indeed right throughout the nation were telling us that they wanted the Federal Government to provide for them. The instant asset write-off is a very popular programme and I would encourage any small business if they have the cash flow to make use of it - there is now an extension of 12 months. But also Treasurer Scott Morrison also announced that there would be $300 million put on the table for the Federal Government to work in conjunction with state governments to see what we could do as far as cutting through more red tape. Small businesses tell me that bureaucracy is burdening them with not being able to get on with what they do best for themselves as well as the economy. So were trying to cut through some of that red tape. We’re trying to slash as much green tape as possible, cutting through the bureaucracy. We’re doing it with the Single Touch Payroll, we’re doing it with simplified Business Activity Statements but we want to cut through more. We’ve already slashed $5.8 billion – we set ourselves a target of $1 billion annually, we’ve achieved $5.8 billion but there’s more work to be done. That’s why we’ve put $300million on the table to work in conjunction with colleagues such as Steve Bennett, to work with Keith Pitt and other state and federal MPs to see what we can do. I look forward to meeting with my state ministerial colleagues very shortly to see what they can do to take advantage of that $300million that’s on the table. With that I might ask Steve Bennett to make some comments and then I’d be happy to take any questions.

BENNETT

Thanks everyone for coming and more importantly those small business owners that made their time - valuable time - available to hear from the Minister and of course come along to this small business forum. It is essential that state members are here to support our federal colleagues and also I acknowledge that today we are making some strong small business announcements about payroll tax, about small business incentives and about supporting the Federal Coalition’s red tape reduction incentives. We are committed to that as an LNP Government, Tim Nicholls is making those announcements today in Brisbane, so again to our local community that things are tough but with the Federal Government’s incentives it’s a great Budget for the Hinkler electorate but more importantly acknowledging that small businesses are the engine room. When you consider that 90% of Queenslanders are employed by small business we welcome the Federal Government’s announcements and more importantly the LNP backing the Federal Government if we get back into government to make sure that small businesses in the Hinkler, in the Burnett electorate are prosperous and that’s what we’re all here for. It is jobs and it is the economy and you can’t do that without small business support. Thank you.

McCORMACK

Steve mentioned about jobs and that’s what our Budget is all about. It’s about jobs, job creation and making sure that unemployed youth are given the opportunity to take whatever jobs are available and putting Australians first. Any questions?

JOURNALIST

Just in terms of you say cutting red tape tends to be a bit of a blanket term, can you outline exactly what that is going to be?

McCORMACK

Well certainly we’re simplifying the Business Activity Statements and that is red tape. Now previously there were seven categories of the BAS that people had to fill out. From 1 July they’re only going to have to fill out GST on sales, GST on purchases and total sales. That’s down from seven sections to three sections.

The Single Touch Payroll is another good thing we’re we’ve looked at cutting through red tape and we want to make sure that in the procurement space that more small businesses – particularly regional small businesses. I’m the first small business minister from a region; I’m the first country-based MP who has actually filled this roll of the 17 who have filled the small business portfolio federally since the portfolio was created. I understand that regional small businesses can have a slice of government goods and services as well. So that’s why one of my first undertakings as Small Business Minister was to write to each one of my ministerial colleagues to say where possible we want small business to take advantage of the small business procurement policies in place. I want to make sure that some of the procurement policies are simplified to make sure that regional small businesses in particular can take advantage of those opportunities that are available. Certainly with the market opportunities, the free trade agreements that we’ve engaged in with South Korea, with China – Keith Pitt’s over there at the moment and also with Japan to make sure we can take advantage of that in the sorts of way that it’s not onerous and burdensome for small businesses.

JOURNALIST

Are Regional businesses disadvantaged compared to their metro counterparts?

McCORMACK

I don’t believe so. There are some fantastic opportunities for regional small businesses at the moment. There has never been a better time to be in the region. We as a Government have a decentralisation policy so we’re endeavouring to get government agencies and public servants out of the Brisbane’s, out of the Sydney’s, Melbourne’s and Canberra’s and into the regions. We have many committed Ministers from the LNP and The Nationals in particularly with Keith Pitt in Trade, Barnaby Joyce in Agriculture, Darren Chester in Infrastructure and Transport, I’m in the small business portfolio, so regional members are well and truly punching above their weight when it comes to portfolios. Our focus is very much on the regions. Of course everything has to be in the best interest of the nation, we as regional members understand that. When the regions are strong so too is our national economy and that’s why each and every waking moment of my day and my National Party and LNP colleagues time and effort is put into making sure the regions are front and centre of anything the Federal Government is doing. 

JOURNALIST

What are some of the issues that stood out with the local business owners here today?

McCORMACK

Well they’re very excited about the fact that we’ve extended the instant asset write-off programme by twelve months. They’re very excited about the fact we’ve lowered the corporate company tax rate to twenty seven and a half per cent. They understand that there are challenges facing local people but they are also pleased that we are putting $300million on the table to work without state colleagues to see what we can do as far as lifting some of the onerous bureaucracy is concerned. That’s why it’s great to have a chat to Steve Bennett about the sorts of things we can do to achieve that. I’m so pleased that Tim Nicholls is also getting on board very early with an announcement as to what the Queensland LNP is doing and hopefully they’ll be in government very soon so they can work in conjunction with the Federal Coalition Government to put in place some of the things, some of the policies and the very good ideas that they have as far as cutting through a lot of that red tape that does exist between state and federal governments. But also the Federal Government is rolling out the National Business Simplification Initiative to make sure that some of those silos are broken down between local, state and federal spheres as far as red tape is concerned.

JOURNALIST

How does the $300million translate into less red tape? How does the Government go about spending that kind of money to reduce red tape? Wouldn’t it be as simple as changing the rules?

McCORMACK

Well it’s not matter of just simply changing the rules. It is a matter of talking to our state government colleagues to see if they do reduce red tape how much that is going to cost them and putting $300million on the table to incentivise them to do so.

JOURNALIST

Is this a policy you’re also working with the current government with or is this only if the LNP is elected?

McCORMACK

No, I want to work with Anastasia Palaszczuk’s Government, I want to work with Gladys Berejiklian’s Government in NSW, I want to work with Daniel Andrew’s Government in Victoria and all the other state governments to see what we can do. I’m pleased to see Tim Nicholls is out very early, very, very early in fact, the gates have crashed back and he’s first off the blocks to make sure the Queensland LNP has policies in place to cut through some of that red tape. I was very pleased to talk to Steve Bennett this morning about some of those policies, about what the LNP are doing and I now urge and encourage Anastasia Palaszczuk to get on board to make sure Queensland Labor is fully committed to make sure we can cut through more red tape.

It’s not about Labor/Coalition; it’s about doing what we can for small business. We are agents for the small business sector to grow and expand and to create more jobs. I want to work with any government – whatever colour or stripe or creed they have, whatever flag they’re flying – to make sure we create more jobs. That’s what it is all about. We want to lift the burden from small business. I’m here as the Small Business Minister at this forum not just to talk but more importantly to listen to what small businesses are telling me. We’ve already acted, our Budget showed that. We’ve lowered the company tax rate, we’ve extended the instant asset write-off and we’re cutting through red tape. We want to make sure that small business has the best possible way of the pathway to success and we’re doing everything in our power federally to do that. Great to work with Steve Bennett and other state LNP members to see what we can do and now I urge Anastasia Palaszczuk to get on board and see what we can do with her Government.

JOURNALIST

You went out to the Coral Coast Chamber of Commerce meeting this morning at Bargara, I know one issue out there for small business owners is the internet. Is that an issue that was discussed at the meeting?

McCORMACK

Well look NBN is the great connector, it’s the great enabler. We want to make sure that regional businesses have every pathway to success and that’s why NBN is important. When we came into government it was an absolute mess. There were some very fancy maps and a lot of holes dug but not too much fibre optic cable laid. But we are getting on board we are rolling it out as fast and affordably as we can. That’s why in the Budget we’ve also put in $29.5billion worth of equity and $19.5billion commercial loan to NBN Co. We are as fast as we can, as affordably as we can, rolling it out to as many regional communities but we also did make sure we did as a Government put regional areas which had little or no connection first – we make no apologies for that – over some areas which did have some connectivity, did have some ADSL service, we put those little or no service or connectivity at the front of the queue and we will continue to roll it out. There are many small businesses which rely, which need those services to connect with the world. I know Keith Pitt’s committed to making sure we do just that. We will continue to make sure those small businesses are connected as fast and affordably as we can. Thank you very much.