[RECORDING STARTS]...here as part of the national small business roadshow. We are going to be doing a small business roadshow forum in both Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. I am here with David Gillespie and Luke Hartsuyker – my Nationals’ and Ministerial colleagues.
David has told me a lot about the diversity of small businesses in this area. It’s great to be able to come here and see some of them first hand. Like Bennett’s Steel here today. I have come to talk to people such as Tanya Simmons – to not just talk to her about the good policies the Government has in place – perhaps even more importantly to listen to her about what she thinks the Government should be doing to boost small business even further.
We have just reduced the tax rate for small business to 27.5 per cent – that’s the lowest it’s been for 50 years. We have redefined what a small business is, to now an annual turnover of $10 million, up from $2 million. That enables tens of thousands of more small businesses – many of them in regional areas, many of them on the Mid North Coast – to be able to take advantage of not only the tax cuts but also the instant asset write off. That enables small businesses such as this one we’re here at today – Bennett’s Steel – to take advantage of buying that piece of capital equipment which is going to help boost their business and put a bit more cash flow into their business. It will help increase the number of customers coming through the doors. That’s what this is all about. Because the small businesses in regional NSW in particular, they understand, they underpin the national economy. They really do. They boost business right around the country. They employ people. At the moment, small businesses employ 5.5 million Australians – there’s 3.1 million of them – and as I say we are here to back them. Especially the ones in regional areas. They are doing a wonderful job in many communities and a wonderful job for the national economy.
Thanks Minister. David Gillespie, how important do you think small businesses are, especially in a town like Wauchope, where it’s known for its small businesses?
Well small business is the engine room of economies here in the Hastings Valley and in Wauchope in particular. We have many businesses like Bennett’s Steel which are supplying to the building industry, the timber industry, and for many other individuals their steel requirements. It’s a great long-term business employing 11 full-time staff as well as Tanya and Shiree themselves.
As I said, it’s the lifeblood – small business is the lifeblood – of regional Australia’s economy. We’ve got the Hastings Co-op, one of the biggest employers in the Valley. But we have also got many other small businesses. It’s great to see the Government give a tax cut – down to 27.5 per cent – we’ve got the instant asset write-off for equipment up to $20,000. They’ve got accelerated depreciated for pooled equipment above that. And it’s such a good incentive because the businesses, they work out what’s good for their business rather than other schemes where there’s a grant involved. It’s much better if the business is making the decision about the equipment they need. That adds to their bottom line.
And the aim of the tax cut is so the return on their investment – all the capital they’ve got tied up in this – they’ve got a better return. It means small business men and women, they often don’t get a wage, they get a thing called profit. And we love companies to make profit. And we want it to be bigger so they re-invest and then they employ more people. Profit is not a dirty word, profit is a beautiful word for small businesses – for the small business men and women of Australia – and we want it to be bigger for as many of them as possible.
Wonderful. And Tanya Simmons, can I just ask you how tough is it for small business like yourself, you know, up against the bigger businesses?
TANYA SIMMONS, BENNETT’S STEEL:
I think it’s always tough competing against anyone. But we have really positioned ourselves in a unique place. We do a lot of things others don’t do. We work really closely with a lot of our other big competitors and a lot of local people and a lot of other local people we would look at as our competition, sure. We work really closely with them. So all of us are getting a little bite of that pie.
So is there are a loyalty – do you find – to businesses locally because Wauchope is such a small business town and people look out for each other?
Absolutely. We’ve found being part of a community, there is definitely loyalty there. Customers, suppliers, everything. I don’t like sending someone away to somebody else to get something that we can’t supply but in return we do find they come back to us, definitely, for what they know we can do. We don’t want to be doing the same as everyone else, either.
OK – finally. What’s that thing behind you?
Easy Bend! It’s an easy pack fire place, so that’s just a flat pack fire place we designed about five years ago and are shipping Australia-wide. Predominately for the grey nomads and camping industry, but it was very much something – and that’s something we have looked at over time to outsource and have it done in China. You know, it’s very expensive for us to do it, but it also gives us a job for kids with work placement and when we’ve got trainees and that sort of stuff. So if we were sending that out we wouldn’t have those positions, those opportunities, available for work placement students and things. So this is something we can keep them here doing.