Small Business Grants (Employment Incentive) Bill 2015
My speech in support of the Small Business Grants Bill. I point out this legislation must be a strategic element of an overall jobs vision. The Opposition wants to support good, visionary, strategic jobs outcomes. Government members talk regularly about job creation, but they do not talk about the unemployment figures in regional areas like Maitland.
The speech of the member for Oatley reminds me of when I was the mother of an eight-week-old baby and a partner in a micro business involving a mum, a dad, a son and his wife. We decided to engage our first employee and the provisions in this bill would have been valuable at that time. That business has expanded and at times has employed up to 35 people. Helping micro businesses is a shot in the arm for our economy. Contrary to what members opposite say, the engine room of our national economy is not New South Wales but the small mum-and-dad businesses in our communities. Employing just one person represents a leap of faith for a small business that is working towards realising a vision. Micro businesses will benefit as a result of the passage of this legislation. Of course, the devil will be in the detail. This legislation must be a strategic element of an overall jobs vision. The Labor Party did not support the Payroll Tax Rebate Scheme (Jobs Action Plan) Amendment (Extension) Bill 2015 because it was too broad and there was no evidence that it would help enough people. In fact, the program was underspent and was therefore not as effective as it should have been. The Opposition wants to support good, visionary, strategic jobs outcomes. Government members talk regularly about job creation, but they do not talk about the unemployment figures in regional areas like mine. Hearing members opposite talk about jobs is painful for the unemployed, and particularly for mature workers who have lost their jobs as a result of transitions occurring in our economy. I was fortunate to hear a presentation by Dr Brent Jenkins of the Hunter Research Foundation at a recent Maitland Business Chamber lunch. Dr Jenkins talked about the need for a bold, innovative and bipartisan approach and the jobs transition underway in the mining industry. One of the examples he mentioned was driving jobs, which involve about 28 per cent of the economy. Driverless trucks are already used in the mining industry and Google has developed a driverless car. We know that we are on the brink of stunning technological change. The jobs that my children will do have not yet been invented. When I went to university the internet was in its infancy, only professors had access to email, and Facebook had not been invented. My 13-year-old daughter tells me that Facebook is old hat and that it is now all about texting and Tumblr. We must support the young people in our communities because they are our future workforce. What is it we need to nequities in our regional communities with poor and pitiful access to broadband and education and a lack of incentives for new jobs. Innovation must come from a government with real vision about jobs and the future. For example, renewables would be a great option in my region with its spectacular history of innovation and commercialising innovation to market and manufacturing. We need a strong education sector in order to deliver the workers who will work in the industries and the jobs that are created by small and innovative businesses. That is why, most importantly, our Government should support small businesses with affordable TAFE options for people and other educational outcomes. The Government's TAFE white paper states that it was going to push this onto employers—that employers would take up the slack. If a young person aged 15 is not doing particularly well at school it is a leap of faith for an employer to take on him or her as an employee. Under the Labor Government there were some incentives for employers, recognising the risk taken and the time, energy and effort invested in young people, including the time taken by young people to attend TAFE. I applaud small businesses that take on that risk as they give young people a fair go. Increasing TAFE fees, making them up-front and reducing incentives to employers is a kick in the guts for small businesses in our State. The Government expects the business community to do the heavy lifting in creating jobs and taking that leap of faith in relation to those whom the Government has left behind. This bill in some small measure will try to redress that imbalance. I want to work with a government with vision that delivers innovation, creates jobs and ensures no-one is left behind to wither on the vine because it is too lazy to invest in education.