Second Reading – Treasury Laws Amendment (Lower Taxes for Small and Medium Businesses) Bill 2018

Monday, 15 October 2018

Mr PITT: While the previous member’s still in the chamber, I’d like to point out the best thing he can do for energy in Queensland is ring Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Queensland Labor Premier. There is one owner of the retailers in regional Queensland, there is one owner of the poles and wires, and one owner of 70 per cent of the generators—that is, the Queensland Labor government. It sets the price and is robbing over a billion dollars from consumers. I find it outrageous that, in his contribution on Treasury laws, the member for Kingsford Smith would spend half of it bagging the government out about electricity prices when, where I come from, they are set by the Labor Party—100 per cent. They could do something about that today.

But I turn to the bill in question. Like you, Mr Deputy Speaker Howarth, I am a former small-business owner. I do know your family is still operating your small business, and I’ll give a shout-out to your wife, Louise, while I have the opportunity. I know she has taken up the slack while you’re in your role as an MP. Congratulations to your family business. It is great news for small business in Australia to have a tax reduction brought forward substantially. The bill means small and medium businesses will have a reduced tax rate of just 25 per cent, and unincorporated businesses will have a 16 per cent tax discount, sooner. As a former small-business operator—for more than a decade—I know that this is about stability, this is about reliability, this is about strength of the bottom line and the capacity to make decisions based on risk. The stronger your business bottom line is, the more likely you are to employ someone else, the more likely you are to borrow money and expand, and the more likely you are to continue to increase your business and its operations. So this is great news for small businesses across Australia. In Queensland, that’s some 426,000 small businesses, each employing fewer than 20 people. They represent over 97 per cent of businesses statewide and employ approximately 44 per cent of all private sector workers. This is a substantial change for them. It is a very, very considered move by the government and it will make a real difference to the Australian economy and to the ability of these small businesses to employ.

I do want to speak about some of the small businesses in my electorate while I have the opportunity. Cutting Crew men’s hairstylists, a new business, happen to be a group of ladies I have known for a very long time. I congratulate them on taking the risk to open up their own facility. Avenell Bros gift shop has been a local institution in Bundaberg for two generations. J & R McCracken is a family owned irrigation business that continues to employ locally and deliver all of the equipment, particularly around irrigation, needed for our growing agricultural offering, particularly macadamias and avocados. There’s a new gourmet kitchen and catering firm, Water Street Kitchen, which we trialled just last week with the British high commissioner, Menna Rawlings, who happened to be in town. I think she enjoyed herself thoroughly and certainly thanked the young team that owns this new business. In Hervey Bay there are a couple of beachfront institutions, Aquavue and Enzo’s, where last week we had Minister Fletcher addressing the local Hervey Bay chamber on the cashless debit card. Ulton accountants in Hervey Bay continue to support those local businesses.

I want to mention a couple of special ones. Buck’s Butcher Shoppe in Childers is another locally run business that provides fantastic service to the people of Childers, a small community centre. There’s the Naughty cafe in Howard, which is a new opportunity. And then there’s Billy Beans Coffee in Torbanlea. Torbanlea is a small regional centre between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay. It’s about an hour from Bundaberg. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, sometimes we have a very early start. If you’re passing through the town of Torbanlea and the coffee van is there and open, it’s very welcome at half-past five in the morning, after a 4 am kick-off. I’m very pleased that all of these businesses will receive a benefit as a result of the changes from the coalition government.

Can I also say I’m very pleased that the Labor Party has seen sense on this and decided it will take a bipartisan position. I think that is a great indication for our country. And those sorts of things should continue, because it is business, and particularly small business, that is the backbone of this country. Small business drives our regional economies. It is small business that employs Australians. It’s not government. Government have a number of public servants, obviously, but we can never employ everyone in Australia. It is business that employs, it is business that takes risks, and the more that we can do to strengthen its bottom line the better it is for our nation and its growing economy.

I congratulate all of our local businesses who are out there working hard. I’ve got to say that nearly all of them take the same approach that I always did in business—that is, pay your staff first, pay your bills second and pay yourself last. With that, I commend the bill to the House.

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