House debates

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Constituency Statements

Dunkley Electorate: Small Businesses

9:59 am

Photo of Bruce BillsonBruce Billson (Dunkley, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Small Business, Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

People ask me what happened to my foot, and I say that these are the wounds from trying to kick-start this government’s interest in small business! I will persist in that effort today, as I am happy to inform the House.

Photo of Chris HayesChris Hayes (Fowler, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Hayes interjecting

Photo of Bruce BillsonBruce Billson (Dunkley, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Small Business, Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

It was actually from simulating athleticism with my 12-year-old son, but that is a discussion for another day. The point is that I will continue this effort to have the Gillard government take some interest in the small business community. Since the election of Labor, the ABS statistics show that 300,000 jobs have been lost in smaller businesses in Australia. There are 20,000 fewer small businesses than there were when this mob were elected. These are clear key performance indicators that show that things are tough in small business.

We want to put the business back into small business and that is why we provided a comprehensive election policy prior to the last election. One element we spoke about was the opportunity to relieve the unnecessary red-tape burden on small employers—in fact, on all employers creating wealth and opportunity in Australia. I am pleased that the Paid Parental Leave (Reduction of Compliance Burden for Employers) Amendment Bill 2010, which is a private member’s bill, is on the Notice Paper. I am encouraged that the Selection Committee has indicated there is some prospect of having it debated in the last sitting fortnight. I urge government members to get behind this bill.

The government has failed to provide any compelling reasons why employers should be forced into the role of handling the payments and being the PPL pay clerks with the responsibilities, compliance risks, costs to their systems and burdens that need not be there. There is no good reason why employers, particularly small employers, should be faced with those red-tape burdens, the costs of revising their payroll systems to receive and reconcile the government instalments and passing on those payments. There is no compelling reason why that is being provided.

It is interesting that the previous small business minister, who admittedly was out of cabinet—and the coalition were going to remedy that failure of Labor—could not convince his own people when the bill was first debated that the payroll responsibilities should not rest with employers, particularly small employers. He would go around the country telling small business organisations: ‘We agree. You should not have to do this.’ What is the consequence? Nothing. They were left with that burden because the small business minister was unpersuasive in the previous government.

The current Minister for Small Business has inherited this virus. He is also running around the country saying: ‘We agree with the opposition. I personally cannot see why small employers particularly or employers generally should have this burden placed on them.’ When is the talk going to turn into action? When are the Labor members and small business ministers, who admittedly do not have much influence in this government, going to turn their words into action and get behind some constructive red-tape reduction measures? They talk privately about supporting that but then come into this place and impose these new burdens, risks and costs on small employers. Turn the talk into action. Get behind this private member’s bill. (Time expired)

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am sure the honourable member for Dunkley is thankful that I did not order his prop, which is his foot that is encased in a therapeutic device, to be removed from the chamber.