Senate debates

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Matters of Public Importance

JobKeeper Payment

6:00 pm

Photo of Perin DaveyPerin Davey (NSW, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I would like to commend Labor for finally acknowledging our small business community. This is the same party that, last election, offered nothing for small business except more union power and increased costs of doing business. Since that election, small business has not featured in Labor's policy manifesto whatsoever. Yet here they are today, proclaiming to be the champions of small business. But, as usual, Labor are being opportunistic and unrealistic. They would have us indefinitely fund JobKeeper at the expense of real business support mechanisms we have put in place to create jobs. We heard today from Senator Birmingham that over 800,000 jobs have been created in Australia in the last six months alone. Unlike Labor, we have a history of supporting small business.

Ever since the coalition came back to power in 2013, we have delivered a range of policies and initiatives to make it easier to establish, operate and grow small businesses in Australia. Our policies enabled small businesses to create over 1.5 million new jobs between 2013 and the start of the pandemic. As a National, I know all too well that our regional economies, in particular, are almost entirely dependent on small businesses. From farmers to boutiques, bakeries to consultancies, hairdressers and plumbers, our small businesses keep our economy and our communities going.

COVID has been particularly crippling, particularly in the regions. These are regions almost untouched by the pandemic itself that have faced the same lockdowns, the same business closures and the same restrictions that have been imposed to manage the pandemic in urban areas. For border communities in particular, the haphazard state imposed border lockdowns and restrictions that have come off and on and off again have been particularly crippling. It's made it impossible for businesses to try to manage and plan for the future. And they've done so with no state compensation whatsoever, except for New South Wales, which established the Southern Border Small Business Support Grant. I commend the New South Wales government for recognising the impact that state restrictions have had on our small businesses.

At the beginning of the pandemic, our government understood that our economic recovery would be dependent on the thousands of small businesses across our nation. That's why we swung into action to support them throughout, and our measures have worked. JobKeeper was only one of those measures, and it was always temporary. Other measures we've put in place include tax credits for small businesses. Over 800,000 small businesses received $35 billion in tax credits. Labor likes to talk about the 'cut' to JobKeeper, but let's talk about the real cuts—the tax cut from 30 per cent to 26 per cent for turnovers of less than $50 million and the personal income tax cut. These are the cuts that put money back into people's pockets. The $4.9 billion tax relief through temporary loss carry-back allows companies to write off their bad years against good years—so important after the year that was. And, yes, there's the small and medium enterprise loan guarantee scheme. I thank Labor for highlighting this very good and very popular policy. It has already supported 35,000 loans worth more than $3 billion for our small businesses. The improvements and the extensions we're making to this scheme are wanted, have been asked for and will succeed.

We must remember JobKeeper was always targeted and temporary. It was there to see us through the worst of the pandemic. Thankfully, our worst has been nothing like the worst seen in other nations. Thankfully, Australia, due to our good management of the pandemic, is ready to rebuild. As we rebuild, our government will continue to support small businesses. I remind anyone listening that the best way they can support small business is to buy local and support local. Support your small businesses. Get a coffee from the cafe, get your hair done down the street and support your local small businesses.


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