House debates

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Small Business

2:38 pm

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison government is providing critical support to small businesses to help drive Australia's economic recovery as we come out of the other side of the corona pandemic?

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Bonner for his question. He understands small businesses, because he has owned and operated a small business, just as I have and just as many people on this side of the House have. We understand from firsthand experience how challenging it is to run a small business. It's because of that understanding and that firsthand experience that our government has understood the enormous difficulties and challenges that businesses, particularly small businesses, have faced due to the restrictions and the disruptions that have been brought about through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Without a doubt, small businesses are the engine room of our economy. Throughout this crisis they have demonstrated agility, they have demonstrated innovation and they have shown enormous determination to get through this crisis. Whether that's through pivoting to a new type of production, whether it's taking their business online in a very short space of time or whether it's modifying their work practices so that they continue to operate in a COVID-safe environment, they have done what has been required of them so that they can adapt to live and work in this COVID environment. They've done that because it is essential to their survival to do so.

We have backed them with some very practical programs such as the JobKeeper program, which so far has meant that over $40 billion has flowed to almost a million businesses with over 3½ million employees. That's giving them the certainty and confidence that they need to stay in business. I'm sure that the member for Bonner, like every member in this place, has had local business owners tell him what a lifeline JobKeeper has been for them and how it has done exactly what it was intended to do, which was to help businesses retain their staff and to keep their doors open. There are a number of other measures that we have put in place, including tax measures to boost cash flow. That's delivered about $20 billion in support. Our COVID resource hub which we have established has had about five million views since March, and we've responded to over 65,000 direct inquiries.

Small business is in the coalition government's DNA, and we back them all the way. Common sense, throughout this, must prevail, and I can assure our hardworking small businesses that we will be rolling up our sleeves and doing all that we can to keep them working every single day, because Australia is open for business. (Time expired)