Thursday, 28 November 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Cash. Can the minister please update the Senate on how the Morrison government is addressing real issues of importance for Australians, like creating jobs, and how the small business growth fund will support Australian small and medium businesses to invest, grow and employ more Australians?
Opposition senators interjecting—
I acknowledge Senator Antic from South Australia's question, but I also acknowledge the former President of the Australian Senate, another great senator from South Australia, former Senator Alan Ferguson, who is joining us here today. The coalition government on this side of the chamber are very proud to back small and family businesses and small and medium enterprises in Australia every step of the way, because we understand that they are the backbone of the Australian economy. There are approximately 3.4 million SMEs in Australia, and the contribution they make to employment and their importance to Australians cannot be underestimated. Every day almost seven million Australians get up and go to work because of the 3.4 million SMEs in Australia. As the Treasurer himself recently said, small and medium-sized businesses are responsible for more than three-quarters of the output in agriculture and more than half the output of construction.
One of the issues that does affect small and family businesses and medium-sized enterprises in Australia is access to necessary capital. They often find it difficult to obtain finance other than on a secured basis, and typically what they need to do is put up the family home. Also, once they have actually pledged all of their real estate as collateral—and, as I said, it is the family home—they find it difficult to access additional funding. Because on this side of the chamber we are committed to putting in place the policies that will allow small and family businesses and medium-sized enterprises to prosper, grow and create more jobs for Australians, we have established the Australian Business Growth Fund. The government is committing $100 million in funding to the fund and is partnering with other financial institutions to provide equity funding to small and medium enterprises. We are looking forward to getting capital flowing to these businesses.
The government is also using our role as a procurer of services to support small and family and medium businesses to prosper, thrive and grow, because when they do they create more jobs for Australians. We have clear targets for small and medium enterprises to receive 10 per cent of all government contracts and 35 per cent of contracts valued up to $20 million. The government has exceeded these targets, with over 41,000 contracts valued at $16.7 billion awarded to small and medium enterprises in 2018-19. In addition, as of 1 July this year, the government is committed to paying invoices under $1 million within 20 days and, as the finance minister and I recently announced, as of 1 January 2020, we will start paying e-invoices within five days. That is backing small, family and medium enterprises.
It is because, as we know, when you back small and medium businesses and family businesses in Australia, they prosper, grow and create more jobs for Australians. Seven million Australians get up every day and go to work because they are offered employment by these 3.4 million SMEs. We understand, though, that you need to put in place the right economic framework so that businesses are able to lever off it and grow their business. That is why our economic plan is making it easier for small and family businesses and medium enterprises to grow their businesses. We have lowered their taxes. Why? It is because we understand that the more money they have the more they are able to invest back into their business. We are cutting red tape, because red tape is costly. If you get rid of it, it is a return back to the business. We are, of course, giving them the opportunity to participate in our $100 billion infrastructure plan. We are committed to supporting SMEs across Australia. (Time expired)