29 February 2016
Transcript - #2016020, 2016

In the role of: Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer [21 September 2015 - 18 July 2016]

Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

SUBJECTS: Growth in Small Business; tax reform

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures have revealed that there have been more than 21,500 new small businesses start over the past year. This is an increase in the number of small businesses overall and it is a great sign that the Government's incentives for small business are working. The cut in the company tax rate by 1.5 per cent; the five per cent discount for unincorporated entities; the instant asset write-off for small businesses wanting to invest in their businesses by buying an asset for that business – it might be for instance a café who is looking to get a new coffee machine – any asset worth less than $20,000 or up to the value of $20,000 can be eligible for this instant asset write-off for small businesses. We've also made it easier for small businesses to change their structure and not trigger tax liabilities such as the capital gains tax, so all of these measures are a sign that we are helping small business to get on and investing in themselves, to growing their businesses, to employing more people and that is why we've seen such great figures today nationwide.

JOURNALIST:

Can small business expect any more incentives in this upcoming Budget?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We're very conscience of the important role that small business plays to our national economy. It contributes more than $340 billion every year and we know that if small business can continue to grow, they will contribute even more to the nation's economy and will employ more people, so we are always looking at how we can support small business better which is why this year we announced the new Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman in Kate Carnell, she's taking up her new role from the 11th of March this year, she's got a big office, new powers and a very strong advocacy role for small business and I know that that's going to make it better for small business to have the issues that are important for them to be focused on not only by the Ombudsman, but particularly by Government as well.

JOURNALIST:

There's reports this morning that the tax plan could be out in April, is that something that you're working towards?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

The Government is working very methodically, very carefully on our tax plan. We're not like Labor – rushing to failure. We are making sure that we get it right and we're going through the full processes in order to do just that. We need a proper Cabinet process to consider all of these tax changes because they have implications for the Australian people and for our economy and for our financial system so you've got to get it right and that's why we're taking the time to do that.

JOURNALIST:

Would April be rushing or is – I mean are we likely to see earlier than the May Budget like Malcolm Turnbull initially said?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We are looking to make sure that our tax plan is right, that it is carefully considered. The Australian people rightly expect that, they demand it, they want to know that those people who are in charge, who are governing, are governing for them and getting the tax policy right is a critical element of that.

JOURNALIST:

Can I just ask, so if there is this potential it is released in April is it that you'd like to put it to the State Premiers and the Chief Ministers before you put it to the public, make sure that the States and Territories are on side with maybe some initiatives that you have got in that paper?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We will go through all of the proper processes to make sure that our tax plan is right for the Australian people and right for the times. We will go through those processes very methodically and we will consult widely in order to get that right. Now I am obviously not going to give you a preview today as to what the exact tax plan is going to be but it will be announced in time before the Budget and very clearly we are going to be going to an election this year, the Australian people are going to be very focussed on the comparison between our tax plan and Labor's tax plan. What we already know from Labor's tax plan is that their plan will have a very significant impact on the economy. They have released a plan on negative gearing that from the 1st July 2017 will make sure that those people who are currently deducting their interest for their properties that they have negatively geared, for established properties, that they won't be able to do that anymore. Now what that's going mean is it is going to take around about a third of investors out of that established market and when they do that they will drive those house property prices down for established properties.

JOURNALIST:

John Howard's not convinced about negative gearing, are you?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

He is not convinced about changes for negative gearing, that is correct. I know that the Prime Minister mentioned only yesterday that he has been in long discussions with John Howard about things, just as I have with Peter Costello. Two people who know a lot about tax and know a lot about governing. We are going through as I said before the right processes to make sure that we get our plan right and we will be announcing it in the not too distant future to the Australian people.

JOURNALIST:

So is that what you will be telling your colleagues in the Party Room tomorrow because some Liberals, especially the ones in marginal seats are expressing concern that the debate is dragging on far too long?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

All of my colleagues know and understand that it is critical to get this right, they all know that Labor have rushed to failure with their policy, that they have announced a very reckless policy that will damage the Australian economy and undermine the wealth of the Australian people. They don't want that, they want to make sure that the taxation policy that is released by this government is careful, methodical and well thought through and with consultation – that is exactly what we are doing. Thank you.