So what is happening here today?
Today is the Bundaberg Small Business Expo which is just fantastic news for the local community and is an opportunity for people to demonstrate their commitment to the local economy and local business. The main message that we want to get out there today is that we are open for business.
Minister, have you seen events like this in other places?
I have been fortunate to be a part of similar expos, but here the energy and optimism is just great. Bundaberg has been through a lot and it's great to see people coming together to recover from the natural disaster and get back on their feet. Here businesses are getting together to get the mojo back into the Bundaberg economy and it's great to be here.
I am also here today to launch the 'Unfair Contract Terms Discussion paper' which aims to make sure businesses big and small have the chance to thrive and prosper.
Small business really is the backbone of little economies like this. How do events like this help?
Small Business is the engine room of the economy, particularly in regional communities. Small business and family enterprises are the economy and here you've got businesses talking to other businesses, identifying opportunities for collaboration and new projects and talking about how they can meet local business needs.
By shopping locally, getting behind local jobs and realising livelihoods in the local community need businesses to work with each other and that's all being showcased here at the expo.
Tell us about the new Unfair Contracts paper.
Well it's part of what Keith and I are doing at a national level to make sure the environment is supportive of small enterprises and smaller businesses. What we are on about is making sure that big businesses don't say to smaller businesses 'if you want to work with us here is a contract, take it or leave it.'
There may be clauses in contracts that are quite hostile, quite detrimental to small businesses and make them feel like they've got little choice because they don't have the market power and dominant size of the big guys.
This is about making sure we've got good, healthy, commercial relationships between big and small business to get the enterprise happening in the economy again which will drive economic growth and jobs and this is an investment to get that right.
We've got a lot of small growers that sell to big businesses like Coles and Woolies. Is this the sort of thing you are talking about?
This is part of that. We've recognised that things can be pretty tough between suppliers and big businesses regarding the change in terms, prices you thought that you agreed on being unilaterally altered and new payments to stay a customer.
These things have popped up and that's not good for business relations. The big players have recognised this and they've made some steps with the Food and Grocery Code that Coles and Woolworths have formulated with the Food and Grocery Council and input from growers. The Code is going through a consultation phase that will shortly commence. It's about fair, respectful, mutually supportive contractual relationships that say there is no legitimate reason for a big business to push around or transfer risk to a small business. It is about making sure we have a good environment for small enterprises.