29 August 2014

Business SA 175th Anniversary Gala Dinner - Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide


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I’ve been invited along tonight to give a short speech and look at me – it’s the only speech I can give.

Tonight I am here to celebrate enterprise. To all of you in this room, I am honoured and privileged to be amongst you for a fantastic evening to recognise 175 years of policy, leadership, and advocacy and frankly stalking of politicians. So let’s give it up for Business SA.

Their work has been about creating a more supportive entrepreneurial eco-system for all of you in this room.

We recognise through your risk taking, the preparedness to mortgage your house and your first born, the idea of pillow talk about cash flow… isn’t that living the dream?

But that entrepreneurship and enterprise is something we as a nation need to re-energise. We know we have challenges but there is a delicious world of opportunities out there and it is you people in this room that will help grasp those opportunities, bring them to the great state of South Australia and create wealth and opportunity for your citizens and I salute you and admire you for all you do.

You’re economy is so much a small business economy – 98 per cent of all the enterprises operating in this state are SMEs and 90 per cent of those small businesses employ less than 19 people.

Small business is personal because you know the team that enables you to reach out to markets, to be inspired by the prospect of profit – which isn’t a dirty word- it’s a great enabler, and to use your wisdom, your enterprise and your expertise to create opportunities for yourselves, your families and your communities.

That’s why it’s so important to have these nights of celebration, not enough people know about what it takes to be a great entrepreneur.

My wife and I we had our small business and I don’t stand before you saying we succeeded because we didn’t. The mortgage on our house is nothing to do with our accommodation; it’s to do with our enterprise.

When we decided we couldn’t keep pouring money into our business, it was a day of great personal disappointment and great sadness.

The sense that our effort hadn’t materialised in the way we had hoped, with those in our team depending on us, knowing that we couldn’t continue to do that.

Those suppliers that saw us as their channel to market, they were all counting on us and we were having a red hot go.

We took risks and we loved every minute of it and that is why the entrepreneurship that you display is something to be admired and celebrated and why evenings like this are so important.

Your optimism and positivity is what will drive our economy forward and opportunities in this state.

Ed Blakely, the academic who looks at what powers great cities, talks about knowledge and innovation and you have strengths in that area in Adelaide.

We learn more about the visitor industry, international tourists coming to get the ‘wind in their hair’ of the Fleurieu Peninsula, often not expecting much from our research in terms of the food and wine, the culinary experience.

Their expectations are extremely low but what they leave with is a wonderful experience and a taste of our nation that they want to continue with, as they return back to their home countries.

You are opening those doors to export markets and opportunities.

There is a disruptive economy out there changing around us and small and nimble is what enables us to succeed and grasp this delicious world of opportunities and make them our own.

That’s why tonight this is so important. It takes courage; it takes vision, its takes the kind of chutzpah to run a small business.

For those that don’t know what it’s like, enterprising people often lay awake at night wondering ‘can we make payroll this month?’ Owning a small business, that’s something we need to celebrate.

So I admire and respect every one of you for your contribution to South Australia. You’ve reached out for new markets and we are opening the door for those new markets.

Let us have a renaissance in enterprise, a brighter future, that’s what we are about here tonight and I admire the shared purpose and the optimism in the room, it’s great to be here with you tonight.

Our Prime Minister would have loved to have been here but instead he sent me, the Cabinet Minister, who sits at the decision making table making sure your interests are front of mind every day in the decision making of our nation.

But I am realistic about my station in life; I’m like that unknown Nebraskan singer that’s the warmup act when you all really want to hear from Bon Jovi.

So I have a message from the Prime Minister which will play now. Thank you again for having me here tonight.

Message from the Prime Minister: Congratulations Business SA in its 175th Anniversary. Since 1839, your members have played a vital role in developing trade, investment and business activities right across South Australia, after all, you can’t have strong communities without a strong economy to sustain it and you can’t have a strong economy without strong and profitable private businesses.

Business is the engine room of job creation and that’s why the Government is delivering an economic action strategy to strengthen business by lowering taxes, removing burdensome regulation and encouraging more and freer trade.

The Carbon Tax has been scrapped, red and green tape is being cut, company tax will be reduced from 1 July next year and we are also delivering the roads of the 21st century.

In South Australia we are funding the Torrens to Torrens Road upgrade as well as the Darlington upgrade. Delivering better roads will help your members to get their goods and services to market faster.

It’s our business to make it easier for your members to do their business. Tonight I acknowledge the industry champions and I congratulate all of the Hall of Fame inductees who are receiving awards.

I wish everyone an enjoyable evening and I wish Business SA a long and even more successful future.