I have a background in small business, so that’s why I know things like this are so important. Having run my own small business, I know the ups and downs of being a small business owner.
But particularly for migrants who come to Australia, this is important. They may not know anybody; they don’t know the new community they’re going into. So to be greeted at the airport with this Connective Collective booklet – with some flashcards for the youngsters –means when they go into small businesses, into shops, and see the sticker in the window, they will know that’s a friendly, caring, community-based business which wants to welcome them as well.
That sticker is going to become an identifier that the business cares. Migrants can go in there, they can feel part of the community, and that’s what it’s all about.
When you’re a migrant, it must be so difficult to come to a new country not knowing anybody. But this initiative brings it all together. It’s very much about connecting people together. It’s about putting them into a community and I can’t praise it enough.
The Federal Government – we are talking up small business. We are talking up the extension to the $20,000 instant asset write-off. We are promoting the fact small businesses have the lowest tax rate since 1940. Those initiatives are wonderful. But when you get an initiative such as this, promoted by White Pages – a business which has been going in Australia for more than 130 years, it just brings it all together for the new arrivals to our country.
For a place like Liverpool is a cradle of multiculturalism here in South Western Sydney. How good is that? How important is that? For new arrivals, they’re going to feel welcome. They’re going to know there’s friendly people waiting there to connect them to business, waiting there to connect them to the community all through this great area.
Do you feel like this programme will actually be effective? Will it actually work and will migrants and refugees actually use it?
I’m sure it will. We’ve got Settlement Services International, we’ve got White Pages through Sensis, we’ve got the Liverpool City Council and we’ve got so many other organisations absolutely committed to making it work.
And when you’ve got big and important players like that – key stakeholders in the community – and indeed the small business community of Liverpool, hoping, wanting and ensuring they make it work, of course this will work. And not only will it work here, I am confident it can also be used in other parts of Australia.
I come from Wagga Wagga and we’ve just had 55 Syrian families settle there. For a regional community, Wagga Wagga has been very welcoming of them. But an initiative like this I know would work in Wagga Wagga too.
If this pilot works in Liverpool, it can work anywhere. This is – as I say – one of the multicultural cradles of Australia and I know this community is caring. I know it’s very well connected. When they can get that care and that connectivity to migrants who can then understand there is a community which welcomes them, which wants them to participate, I hope these migrants can then start up their own small businesses. You know, most migrants inevitably do. They then forge successful careers which then go on to be generational small businesses, so that’s a fantastic initiative.
I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else today but here in Liverpool launching this because I know how important it is. And as the Small Business Minister, I am responsible for 3.2 million small businesses across Australia. So this is promoting small business. It’s promoting the friendly nature of Australia to our new arrivals. And it’s connecting them to their new communities. So that’s a fantastic initiative.
I congratulate White Pages for it. I congratulate the Liverpool community for getting behind it. And I wish it every success.