1 March 2016
Transcript - #2016022, 2016

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

Interview with Vanessa Mills, ABC Kimberley

SUBJECT: Northern Australia tourism businesses given a new edge.

VANESSA MILLS:

The Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O'Dwyer, hello.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Hello Vanessa, great to be with you.

MILLS:

Can you specifically tell me how this programme is going to help tourism businesses across northern Australia?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

The Australian Small Business Advisory Services programme, and the entrepreneurs programme, which amounts to around about $13.6 million, is a programme targeted to helping those tourist businesses to be the very best that they can be. To make sure that they receive the support that they need, the mentoring, the coaching, the advice that is required. So often small businesses find it very difficult to get the information and support that they need at the vital time and the Australian Small Business Advisory Service does just that. It is an initiative that the Coalition Government set up in 2014 and there are a number of these initiatives right across the country. We are delivering it now to northern Australia as part of our focus on northern Australia in developing it, to make sure that we can have small businesses flourish – not only in the southern part of Australia but in the north as well.

MILLS:

Who's eligible to tap into this expertise through the program?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Well anybody as you mentioned, who is a small business who has a turnover of less than $2 million can actually go to the Small Business Advisory Service, they can apply for funding through the ASBAS program to increase their capacity, they can also look at making sure that they can build their business and get the right advice as to how they build their business. If they've got questions regarding staffing and making the most out of their team they can get advice around that. They can learn whether or not they're using the right tools to make sure that they manage their cash flow. These are all the sorts of questions that small business have and the funding that's available to the Australian Small Business Advisory Services, these are the people who provide that advice to small businesses, is open now for the next four weeks and then small businesses will be able to come to them to get that advice.

MILLS:

Will there be an opportunity for other businesses in the north to tap into this program or is it only for tourism operators?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We are specifically extending the program, it does already exist, but we are extending it and tailoring it for small tourism businesses in northern Australia because we know that through the discussions that we've had through the contact we have received that this is an area that needs focus and needs support so that's why we have tailored this part of the program of $13.6 million of additional funding for the entrepreneurs program and the Australian Small Business Advisory Services, $4.2 million is going directly into the Australian Small Business Advisory Services.

MILLS:

It sounds like it's a good opportunity for people to talk about their books, about growing and expanding, about job questions, but on the flip side there are things outside tourism's control such as the wet season which puts the kibosh on making it an attractive destination, then you've got competition with cheap Asian destinations such as Bali or Thailand. On that aspect, what do you think that the Government can do to make the north a more attractive destination year round? 

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Just going back to what the Australian Small Business Advisory Services can do, I mean these people can help small businesses either looking to set up or to expand in this particular area. They can make sure that from the very beginning they have the right foundations and that they've got the right business plan and that they know what some of the challenges are going to be going forward, so making sure that they are aware of some of the vagaries that operating a business in the north is absolutely essential and giving them the ability to navigate through that is also really key. So that is where we think we can provide a really essential service. But you are absolutely right there is a lot of competition from overseas tourist operators and different destinations. But you've got something pretty special there in the Kimberley and being able to trumpet that very loudly and having a strong focus on what makes that so unique will drive tourists to come and visit the Kimberley and to drive them to make the most of not only the fantastic tourist operators that you've got there and that will be developing, but also the many other small businesses that will also be able to start up as a result of a flourishing enterprise.

MILLS:

Minister O'Dwyer, where can operators go to, to tap in to this tourism advice service?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Well, they can do it a couple of ways. They can visit online business.gov.au, they can call 13 28 46 or they can also visit northernaustralia.gov.au. Any one of those will make sure they get the information they need.

MILLS:

Thanks for your time.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Terrific. Thanks Vanessa.