Speech to the 2015 Bundaberg Business Expo

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Click here for the small business factsheet

It’s great to be here to speak to you all today.

I had the absolute pleasure of being here last year with the Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson.

We’ve worked hard during that 12 months, to build confidence in the business community.

And the Budget we released earlier this month delivers on all the things we said we would do for small business, like lowering the company tax rate by 1.5 per cent. But I’ll talk more about that a little later. 

For those of you who don’t know me, I started my career as an electrical apprentice at Fairymead sugar mill.

I studied engineering at university, and worked in a wide variety of roles before starting a consulting and training business that went on to employ about ten staff.

Having grown a business from the back of my ute, I recognise that every great venture starts with an idea. Even the world’s most successful large companies came from humble beginnings.

Small business is the economic life blood of regional communities like ours, and the Coalition Government wants to see them prosper.

There are some 8600 small businesses in the Hinkler electorate, operating across a range of sectors including construction and manufacturing.

Many are family businesses run by mums and dads, aunts, uncles and siblings. And I know that many employees who are not related often become family.

They work long hours, take few holidays and sometimes wear enormous risk to provide important services and products to our community.

Across the country, small businesses employ more than four million people.

We are working to give businesses the confidence they need to invest and employ because it is the private sector that creates jobs – not Government.

Not long after coming to Government in 2013, we announced $13.4 Billion for Queensland infrastructure, including $6.7 Billion for the Bruce Highway. 

Well-planned infrastructure, delivered in a timely manner, is vital to helping businesses get their products to market. It also facilitates service delivery to regional Australia and provides long-term employment, and opportunities for training and development.

We’ve also doubled roads to recovery funding for local councils.   

I understand that infrastructure is not the only hurdle regional businesses have to overcome. Here in Australia, regulation is high, input costs are high, labour costs are high, the Australian dollar is high and profits are low. We’re working to change that.

While it’s not a particularly sexy topic, we’ve made significant progress cutting red and green tape to save businesses time and money.

If there is a piece of Federal legislation you think needs to be reviewed, please email your suggestions to my office.

We’re also investing $255 million to make your dealings with the Tax Office, Centrelink, Medicare, and other government agencies easier, simpler and faster.

We’ve signed Free Trade Agreements with several of our major trading partners. 

Earlier this month, the Coalition released its mid-term Budget. I’d like to explain what that means for you because we want to put money back into your pockets and improve cash flow.

From July 1 this year, all small companies with annual turnover of less than $2 million will have their tax rate lowered, from 30 per cent to 28 and a half per cent.

This is the lowest small business company tax rate in almost 50 years.

Most small businesses are not run as companies. So we will also provide an annual 5 per cent tax discount of up to $1,000 a year for unincorporated businesses.

Small businesses can also now claim an immediate tax deduction for each and every item they purchase up to $20,000.

Every item purchased since 7.30pm on Tuesday May 12, when the Budget was released, can be instantly written off to reduce your tax liability.

This measure alone will benefit 96 per cent of Australian businesses — more than 2 million of them.  

If you run a café, it might be new kitchen equipment, or new tables and chairs.

If you’re a tradie, it might be new tools or a computer for the home office.

Cars and vans, kitchens or machinery … anything under $20,000 is 100 per cent tax deductible.

We are abolishing Fringe Benefits Tax on all portable electronic devices used for work, like mobile phones, laptops and tablets.

Farmers will get an immediate tax deduction for new investment in water facilities, and will be able to fully deduct the cost of new fencing from their tax bill.

We also want Australians to start a new business, and we want them to grow.

That is why we are allowing business owners to immediately deduct the costs incurred when starting up a new business, or receive tax relief when restructuring their existing business.

Earlier this year, I announced $660,000 for the Bundaberg Business Enterprise Centre to provide advice to start-ups in Bundaberg, Fraser Coast and Gympie Council areas.

New businesses create new jobs, and we all know jobs are sorely needed here in Bundaberg.

Entrepreneurial job seekers interested in starting their own small business can get assistance through the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme.

Financial incentives will be provided to employers and employees to get young people and seniors into the workforce.

Long term unemployed Hinkler residents, aged between 18 to 30, will receive $2500 if they hold a job for a continuous period of 12 months, and a further bonus of $4000 when they attain 24 months of service.

Hinkler employers will receive up to $10,000 when they hire a job seeker over the age of 50. That payment is particularly important in an aging electorate like Hinkler.

The median age in Hinkler is 44, compared to 37 for Queensland. Almost 3000 residents are over the age of 85, making it the largest single age group in the electorate.

For all the entrepreneurs in the audience, aged care is a sector that presents enormous opportunity. As the local population ages and more retirees move to Bundaberg and Hervey Bay to enjoy the lifestyle, the demand for in-the-home care, retirement villages and nursing homes is going to increase.

In constructing these facilities and developing new innovative models for service delivery, we will be creating jobs for future generations. The business opportunities and economic benefits, both direct and indirect, should not be underestimated. 

During Senate estimates in 2010, the Department of Health and Ageing indicated there were 429 aged-care beds across the Wide Bay region that were funded but not built by providers. By 30 June 2013, under Labor that figure had blown out to 730. So the funding is there, we just need organisations to build them.

One of the negative aspects of having an aging population is that our workforce is losing critical skills. Sadly, one of Hinkler’s great exports is its young talent.

If we are to hold on to our young people, we need to provide new opportunities: real jobs with real outcomes. We need to give our young people the incentive to undertake a trade and not just training for training’s sake.

Under the Coalition, those undertaking an apprenticeship can apply for concessional loans of up to $20,000 in a scheme similar to HECS.

Job Services Providers will no longer receive payments for process or paperwork. They must deliver real outcomes with job placements. 

In our first Budget we announced that young people would be required to earn, learn or Work for the Dole.

Work for the Dole is giving people routine, structure, presentation skills – all the so-called basic soft skills that employers say not enough job seekers have!

We are fortunate to live in a country where the Government provides a safety net to those who find themselves without employment. Requiring Australians to work for the dole ensures that the obligation is mutual.

Speaking of opportunities, I’d like to congratulate Peter Peterson and the Bundaberg Business Enterprise Centre on putting together this fantastic event.

I’d also like to congratulate the major sponsor of today’s event, AusWide Bank, on becoming Australia’s tenth bank. This time last year, they were still known as Wide Bay Australia and had just launched their business banking.

Auswide Bank started as the Burnett Permanent Building Society in 1966. I’m thrilled that AusWide is committed to maintaining its head office in Bundaberg. Currently employing about 130 local people, AusWide has been a springboard for many young peoples’ careers over the years.

You might have heard me say it before, but I believe all Hinkler residents have a role to play. By supporting small business at the till, they can help small businesses expand and create jobs.

Shopping locally also helps drive competition in the market, which is good for consumers and good for the economy.

I’m proud of what the Coalition has achieved to date. I will continue to work hard for the people of Hinkler, to build the stronger, more prosperous country that we all want.

The Coalition’s initiatives are helping people establish new businesses, and we’re putting money back into the pockets of existing small businesses to help them expand.

In coming weeks my office will be sending out a small business factsheet and survey across the electorate. I’d love to hear your views. If you’d like to be added to our data base to receive more information, please see Larine at the back of the room before we leave.

With that, I declare the event officially open and thank you all for coming.


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