Small business forum

In Parliament - Thursday, 24 March 2016

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (15:57:21): In my maiden speech, I said the following:

The typical Davenport business operator works 7 days a week, has his or her home as collateral for their business finance, ensures that their employees are well looked after and remunerated, and finally, at the end of the week, takes home for themselves a wage to look after their family, pay the mortgage and put a bit away for a rainy day.

On Tuesday 15 March, I had the pleasure of hosting nearly 40 members of the small business community of Blackwood and surrounds at a small business forum at the Belair Hotel. The small business forum was an opportunity to engage with political representatives and discuss matters that are important to those small businesses and traders in my area. I would like to particularly thank the Belair Hotel; Ian Horne of the Australian Hotels Association; Rick Cairney, formerly of Business SA and a guru on small business matters; and the Hon. Rob Lucas from the other place for facilitating this forum with me.There was an excellent response from the local business community and the event was well attended. We saw representatives from the Artisan Café, NewsXpress Blackwood, Kruse Legal, Blackwood Hire, Shakespeare's Books, Blackwood Natural and Remedial Solutions, Blackwood Community Buzz, Harcourts Blackwood, Chemmart Blackwood, Harris Real Estate Blackwood, LJ Hooker Blackwood, Terrain Group, Butterfly Press, Joan's Pantry, Elegant Images, Fotoswift, Blackwood Lingerie, Kuoni Creative, Bendigo Bank, Jacob's Tyres and More, and of course the Blackwood Business Network. There were also many more local business people who apologised for the event as indeed they were working in their businesses that evening.

This was an excellent representation of local businesses from Blackwood and the surrounding suburbs. Blackwood local traders demonstrated their strong interest and willingness to engage in discussing how small local businesses can be assisted by government and, more importantly, what we can learn as representatives from small business. Most interestingly, though, was their commitment to how they (small and local businesses) can help the SA economy and job creation.

Rick Cairney in his presentation asked the group, 'What is the one thing Government could do that would enable them to employ 1 more person?' There was quite a wide range of responses to this question. Amongst them, some of the responses were, of course, a review of penalty rates on public holidays. Many traders believed there was a deterrent to opening businesses in the Mitcham Hills on public holidays.

These business owners are happy to pay extra to their workers on public holidays, and many of their workers are willing to work, but these local business owners who do the right thing and pay correctly feel that penalty rates are crippling their ability to open businesses on long weekends. This has a significant impact on the small business community in Blackwood.

Other answers to the important question of what can be done to employ an extra person included: reduce workers compensation premiums; improve access to loans and financial assistance; improve incentives around traineeships; and increase commercial development in the Blackwood CBD. Other topics that were discussed during the forum included the importance of teaching entrepreneurial skills in schools, and I know that everyone on this side of the house supports that a lot.

Small business in South Australia is the largest economic sector and the largest source of employment. While small businesses may not generate as much money as large corporations, they are a critical component of our society and a major contributor to the strength of local economies. Small businesses create jobs for their workers, for themselves and their families, and many young people find their first jobs in the small business sector. They are job creators.

Small businesses create more jobs than almost any other sector in the South Australian economy. Small businesses meet local needs—the hairdressers, the financial consultant, the emergency plumber. It is small business that drives the incentives that encourage people to innovate and create using their technical skills and common sense to create the new inventions, technology, improved systems and operating methods.

With South Australia having the highest unemployment rate in the nation, now at a seasonally adjusted rate of 7.7 per cent, and the highest youth unemployment rate in the nation, I ask the question I quite often ask when I am on my feet: what is this government doing to help existing small businesses stay in business?

The mum and dad businesses, from the fish and chip shop to the newspaper operator, the local hairdresser, the barber, the franchise owner, the self-employed tradie, the fruit and veg wholesaler and the apple and pear grower, are all looking for answers from this government, because they are the backbone of our community.

This was the consistent message that I was receiving in the forum. Too often, small business feels ignored by this government, but the small businesses in my community can be sure that they will always have my support and that of members on this side of the house, as we know they are the lifeblood of our community.