Hello, I’m Michael McCormack – Australia’s Small Business Minister. I am here at FCT Flames in Adelaide, having a look at the amazing technology – the amazing export business – this is.
It’s a global company which is exporting to the world with combustion. But more than that, it’s innovation, it’s agility. It’s South Australian energy, enterprise and excellence. It’s got a team of 28 people here in South Australia making the flame technology for the Sydney Olympic Games and they have gone onto much bigger and better things since that. Of course, we all remember Cathy Freeman lighting that torch in Sydney in 2000. What an amazing event that was.
But they have gone on from that technology and, using the same concept, they have exported their business to the world and this is just one example of what Australian enterprise can do. It’s just one example of what Australian agility and innovation can do. It fits in well with what the Australian Federal Government is trying to do in the space of innovation and enterprise and getting students with their STEM technology, with their STEM expertise, fitting in with apprentices and universities and the many wonderful things we can do as Australians, as South Australians, right here in Adelaide. It’s tremendous.
I am also with James Pearson from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on a listening tour of each and every capital city. Just this week – we started in Perth and later in the week we will be visiting Darwin and Brisbane to hear what small business expects, wants and demands from its Federal Government.
Small business, of course, here in South Australia, accounts for 97 per cent of business activity in the state and that is replicated right throughout the country. 2.1 million small businesses, making up $470 billion worth of economic growth and prosperity to our nation. It’s a tremendous thing – small business – it needs to be protected and preserved. It needs to be expanded in every degree.
And that’s what the Federal Government is doing with our Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan and that is what the Government is doing by lowering the company tax rate to 27.5 per cent – the lowest it has been since the late 1960s. That is what the Federal Government is doing by continuing the instant asset write-off programme. We want to make sure the threshold for small businesses goes from a $2 million turnover to a $10 million turnover so that more small businesses, more SMEs, can take advantage of the tax breaks and the lowering of the company tax rate. And that’s important.
The road-block at the moment is Labor. We are trying to get it through the two Houses of Parliament. It is not just important – it is critical – that small business is given the opportunity to be able to expand, to be able to grow, to be able to employ more people, and that’s what the Federal Government is committed to.
That’s why I am going on this listening tour at the moment with James Pearson from ACCI. And it is great to be here in South Australia, because in South Australia there is so much opportunity, there is so much entrepreneurial spirit, there is so much drive. And there is no better demonstration of that than here with Con and his team at FCT Flames. They are really making sure that South Australian expertise is taking over the world. I wish them all the best – and the 28 locals here they have on board – making sure that flaming technology is part of every single Olympic Games – and I know they have the Qatar Ambassador coming later this week to discuss FCT Flames exporting and making a ‘hot’ presence, you might say, at the next FIFA Games. So they are exporting to the world. I commend them for what they are doing and wish them every success in the future.
Why is it important to maintain, support and build up small business, particularly in South Australia?
Well, South Australia has obviously taken a hit with the downturn in car manufacturing. But we know small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the South Australian economy, just like they’re the backbone of the Australia economy. They contribute so much and punch well above their weight. And that is why the Government is trying to do as best as we can to get out of the way of small business, to let them get on with the great job they are doing.
That’s why we are simplifying the Business Activity Statement. That’s why we are making sure there is a more level playing field with competition policy. That’s why we are making sure that overseas companies who trade online into Australia are going to pay their fair share of GST – they’re not paying anything at the moment and that’s an impost and inhibitor to small business which open their doors each morning at sun up and work all day, paying rents, paying other utilities costs, doing everything they can to make sure they grow and expand. But we need to make sure
everything we do as a Government is to improve their lot, to help ensure small business owners can continue to feed their family and make sure they succeed on behalf of themselves and their communities.
Today, I am also delighted to see the launch of the Shop Small campaign. This is so critical too, because thinking local and shopping local is critical – particularly in the lead-up to the retail Christmas period. Small businesses offer so much in the way of goods and services, but it is important to remember them in the lead-up to the Christmas period. It is important to remember to give them that bit of a boost leading into December 25 and that’s why this campaign so important. I would urge and encourage anybody if they are thinking of that gift for a loved one to get out there to the local shop. Shop local. Think local. Shop small.