E&OE…

Well thank you very, very much for that kind introduction and can I thank the Western Sydney Business Centre, its partners and sponsors for inviting the Minister for Small Business, the Honourable Michael McCormack MP to be part of this 30th anniversary celebration.

Can I start by also adding my acknowledgment of country.

Can I also acknowledge your Chairman, Peter Berger; to you the CEO, John Todd; Mayor John Thain; Counsellor Ross Fowler whom I've known I think for many, many years; ladies and gentlemen.

Whilst the Minister was unable to join you here today, I did see him this morning and he asked me especially to pass on his best wishes for your 30th birthday.

It's always great to visit Western Sydney. 

Can I say to you Jason, great to visit Penrith Panthers and very good to hear that your membership is now up to 77,000 that you said to me, this is truly an iconic club and always a pleasure to come out and see you.

As Senator for New South Wales since 2005, I've had over the years responsibility as Patron Senator for a number of seats in Western Sydney so I have seen for myself, the growth and influence that this area now enjoys.

Western Sydney, of course, is the beating heart of Sydney, in the same way that small business is the beating heart of Australia's economy. 

What is more, it is a remarkable place, underpinned by strong family traditions, family values and powered by hard work and self-belief. 

I see this displayed in many small businesses that I have visited and seen in Western Sydney over the years.

Indeed, this can be said of the 200,000, of any of those 200,000 businesses or so across this great region.  

Minister McCormack asked me today to start with the tale of one of those businesses which he recently met, belonging to Barry and Lina Salem in Seven Hills.

They are, as you would expect, good people with big hearts and big ambitions — ambitions that have driven them for 25 years.  

They came to Australia as skilled migrants in the early 1990s and within 12 months, they'd set up their own small business, Salem Power Engineering Services.

They were determined to find their own way in this big country.  And that is exactly what Barry and Lina did.  

They started off in Bankstown before eventually moving the business to Seven Hills.  Over the years, they have hired many workers and supported even more apprentices.

Of course, like any other small business there have been tough times, but Barry and Lina stayed strong, buoyed by the passion they had, and they continue to have for their business. 

They put their necks out to create something that they could be proud of, and it paid off — both for them, their family and their community.

It is people like Barry and Lina who have made Western Sydney the powerhouse it is today.  

Can I add that as someone who has lived my life across the diversity that is today contemporary Australia this story is a very, very common one and one that I am very familiar with.

Since 1945, we have welcomed 7.5 million migrants to Australia.  

We have grown to a population of over 24 million with half of us either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. 

A quarter of us speak a language other than English at home.

And so therefore, our businesses and our workplaces make an important contribution not just to the economic fabric of our society, but more importantly to the social cohesion of our country.  

Diversity can result in greater innovation, encourage creative problem solving and help businesses reach their full potential.  

In short, diversity adds value.

With our increasing diversity, we are increasingly seeing the benefit to Australia by recruiting and training talented people and enabling businesses whether small, medium or large to attract a broader range of clients and customers.  

This will all contribute to enhancing Australia's productive diversity.  Through an increasing globalised economy, this offers Australian businesses an unprecedented connection to overseas markets and opportunities.

Often our migrants and dual citizens and they have formed very close business and trading ties to their country of birth or origin and are best placed to understand the customs and languages of trading partners and can act as an important bridge to furthering Australia's trade ties and build on the benefits of our trade agreements.  

In my own Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we are increasingly seeing the value of our diasporas, particularly our diasporas in business community and the impact that they can have both domestically and internationally.

Today, 30% of small businesses are owned by migrants in Australia.

Many of those businesses then go on to be medium sized businesses and large business.  Indeed, some of Australia's wealthiest people came to Australia as migrants and started a small business.

All this… I wanted to just put this because I know that in Western Sydney this is the heart of our diversity. I just have to look around this room just to see that.

And for this reason, as a Government we are very strong backers, we believe in small business.

We believe in men and women who are prepared to take a risk, give it their all, and contribute to our economy. 

They deserve our praise, they deserve our respect, but most importantly they deserve our support.  And that's why from the Coalition Government's perspective we back them and try and back them as strongly as we can.

So that's what I wanted to focus on today - not simply what we are doing directly for small businesses, and that is a lot, but what we are doing more broadly for small business.

I'd like to start with the company tax, because there is no bigger shot in the arm for a small business than a tax cut.  

This is one of the first topics that small businesses raise with us all the time. 

They are keen to share what a tax cut means to them.  It means the opportunity to increase wages.  It means more money in their pockets to invest in staff.  And it means greater confidence.  

Right now, as a result of the Government's recently legislated changes, incorporated businesses with an annual turnover of less than $25 million benefit from a corporate tax rate of 27.5 per cent.

This is the lowest that it's been for half a century.

What is more, by 2026-27, incorporated small and medium-sized businesses with turnovers under $50 million will have a tax rate of 25 per cent.

The instant asset write-off has also been great news for small business owners.  Giving small businesses a shot in the arm and an incentive to further grow their businesses.

There is a lot more in store.  

For instance, in our last Budget we extended the $20,000 instant asset write-off for another 12 months to 30 June 2018.

But we didn't just extend it — we also expanded it.  Businesses with an annual turnover of less than $10 million can access the write-off — a five-fold increase in the turnover threshold.

The instant asset write-off helps businesses replace or upgrade machinery or equipment — which is, let us be frank, something that might not otherwise- they might not otherwise have the cash flow to do.

It helps them grow their business and increase productivity — boosting staff morale and confidence along the way.

But not only that, upgrading equipment has a multiplier effect, with local suppliers and local tradespeople called upon to do those jobs.

Now, looking elsewhere, the Coalition Government continues its crusade against unnecessary red tape.

We have cut more than $5.8 billion-worth of red tape since coming to office, with more to come.  And this is thanks, in part, to measures like the National Business Simplification Initiative.

This is a fantastic example of government supporting a better and simpler business environment.  

It's about reducing the complexity of regulation and helping businesses connect with government more easily.

Moreover, we have intentionally focused on small, achievable projects in specific sectors, in specific locations.  

For example, we have been working with the New South Wales Government on a project to reduce the time it takes to set up a café, restaurant or small bar in Parramatta, for example.

Through seamless government interaction, the project is looking to support end-to-end approvals and transactions across the three levels of government and the results are really encouraging.

With other measures implemented by ServiceNSW, we are reducing the set-up times for cafés, restaurants or small bars from 18 months to three months.

There are other projects underway in other states as well, such as Tasmania where we are looking to reduce regulation to support the tourism sector.

Lastly, I would like to focus on our support to the Australian Small Business Advisory Services program. 

This program focuses on the issues that matter to small business owners, with 37 providers giving advice on anything from funding avenues and financial analysis; building your business; making the most of your talent and team; management capabilities; and digital engagement implementation.

It has delivered — and I believe this is very impressive — more than 63,000 services since March 2015.

That's 63,000 opportunities to pinpoint challenges, dissect limitations, and come up with a game plan to help business owners — or those aspiring to be business owners and help them take that necessary next step.

The support provided through the Australian Small Business Advisory Services program is widely valued and an appreciated resource by small businesses, so can I thank you, can I thank the Centre for continuing to deliver this vital service to help small businesses to develop and grow their business prospects.

Can I particularly acknowledge Centre's work over 30 years.

You are the largest provider of services in Western Sydney and can I particularly commend you on the work that you are doing with young people and young entrepreneurs.

I think that that is very, very important and shows a lot of foresight on your part.

Protecting small business from anti-competitive conduct was a key recommendation of the Harper Competition Review.  

The Australian Government recently delivered fairer competition laws for small business with a passage of Section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act which passed the Parliament on 15 August 2017.

It will encourage economic growth and innovation, strengthening laws to prevent businesses with substantial market power engaging in conduct which harms competition in Australian markets.

The new Section 46 empowers the consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to look at the actual or likely impact of conduct on a market.

The reform of Section 46 has been well received by small businesses across the board, including from the CEO of the Master Grocers Australia who said:
"This is a great triumph for our independent retailers who have struggled for years against stifling unfair competition laws.  At last we will have a level playing field."

These changes most importantly back small business to compete on a level playing field and deliver- and delivers on an important Coalition promise. 

This is good news for small businesses who want to compete and also good news for consumers who want to see greater competition in the market.

So that gives you an idea of what the Coalition Government is doing directly for small businesses — both here in Western Sydney and across the nation.

The success of small businesses depends on a number of other crucial and complex policy areas including education, trade and energy prices.  All of these directly impact on businesses.

And so, too, does infrastructure, particularly here in Western Sydney.  

So I want to say a bit more on this topic before I finish.

In the Budget, the Coalition Government committed to more than $70 billion for transport investment across Australia.  This makes for an exciting vision for this country.  

But, it is a vision that will become real very, very soon.  We have seen the odd- what is it- episode of Utopia lately, but can I just say that what we are signing up to are absolutely real projects and real jobs.  

Some projects, in fact, will see soil turned in the next year or so.

For instance, we expect work to begin on the new Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek by late 2018.

This project, for which the Turnbull Government is committing up to $5.3 billion in equity, will open in 2026 with a 3,700 metre runway and capacity for 10 million passengers a year.

As somebody who lives on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, but has my electorate- and have an electorate office in Wollongong, as you can appreciate I spend a lot of time using the M7 and commuting up and down between these two points.

So, I can appreciate… I have no doubt that this will bring huge number of economic opportunities to Western Sydney and the wider region.  

It will connect the region to the world and, we expect that there will be almost 28,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2031.

And, complementing that massive project, there is the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan, which will boost the local economy and make Western Sydney an even better place to live and do business.

And that plan involves major transport links to connect the airport to the broader region, including the construction of a brand new east-west motorway to the airport between the M7 and the Northern Road, to be known as the M12 Motorway.

Not only that, we are working with the New South Wales Government on options for improved connectivity of its rail services across the Greater Western Sydney region, including the airport.

The Australian Government and the New South Wales Government are conducting a joint scoping study on Western Sydney's long-term rail needs.

So let me finish by again thanking the Centre for the invitation to be here today and for all the wonderful work that you have done supporting small business over the past 30 years.

Clearly it is a passion with you, but it is a passion that the Coalition Government shares with you.  

We believe in the importance of free enterprise, and in supporting those who have a dream and the drive to pursue it.  

Thank you for your kind attention and I am sure that Minister McCormack will visit again very soon.

Thank you very, very much.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7110
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555