House debates

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Regional Australia

2:27 pm

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister inform the House how the McCormack-Morrison government's comeback support during the COVID-19 recession is assisting small business in regional Australia?

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for New England and the advocate for Hunter. We were there last week, weren't we, Member for New England—in the Hunter, talking about announcing that $560 million commitment for the Singleton bypass. Every day, 26,000 vehicles, including 3,700 trucks, rumble through Singleton. We want to get those vehicles and many of those trucks out of the CBD and onto the Singleton bypass. We're going to do it, Member for New England—and it's great to see the member for Hunter has come back into the chamber today. We were there last week. We were talking about infrastructure, we were talking about jobs and we were talking about the comeback.

In the member for New England's electorate, there are 20,000 small businesses, 6,100 of which have benefited from JobKeeper. We regard those businesses highly. We thank them. We're grateful to them for making sure they stayed connected with their employees, making sure they kept their doors open, making sure they turned the wheels of the local economy. I know the member for New England supports each and every one of those small businesses and each and every one of those workers.

It was also great last week to be in Toowoomba, another great regional community. Garth Hamilton is going to represent finely the electorate of Groom in this place. He is going to be a superb member for Groom, and we will welcome him into this place very soon. In Toowoomba there was Paul Wiedman, an electrical small business owner and operator, and he was very much looking forward to taking delivery of his new ute that afternoon, paid for under the instant asset write-off. Of course, he had to have the cash flow, but that's going to make sure that his business not only survives through the comeback but indeed thrives. He was also making sure that he increased his business. The Treasurer will be very interested to know that back in March Paul was looking to downsize his business but, when the Treasurer announced JobKeeper, that gave Paul the incentive, the impetus, the optimism, the hope and the opportunity to add two new apprentices under the wage subsidy, to add to the instant asset write-off and to buy a new ute. It gave him the confidence to increase his business, and that's fantastic. He provides electrical work for households and for commercial businesses, so he was also delighted with the HomeBuilder program because, of course, new homes need wiring and he's going to be able to provide that service with the two new apprentices. He's a great businessman getting on with the job of creating opportunities for Toowoomba. The member for New England knows how important infrastructure and small business are. That's what we're doing: recovering from COVID-19 and getting on with the job.