25 November 2015
Transcript - #2015073, 2015

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

Interview with Kieran Gilbert, First Edition, Sky News

SUBJECTS: Harper Review; stamping out domestic violence.

GILBERT:

With me this morning the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Small Business, Kelly O'Dwyer, to discuss some of the outcomes of this review. Kelly O'Dwyer thanks very much for your time. First of all, the effects test on small business, this has been pushed out to next year. Is the Government actually seriously considering this in the face of the concerns of the peak business body, the Business Council of Australia?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Well Kieran, the most important thing out of yesterday was to say we have not only conducted a one in 20 year root and branch review of competition law but we were looking at how we can unlock our growth through improving our competition. One of the elements of that was a recommendation made by Harper in relation to the effects test. We believe that there is more work to be done on that. There is going to be a stakeholder engagement process which I…

GILBERT:

It's a tricky one though isn't it to get across…

MINISTER O'DWYER:

…which I am going to be leading with small business, big business. There are a lot of people who are in their corners on this particular issue and there is in fact quite a lot of common ground…

GILBERT:

So is there a middle ground option here where you can tighten competition?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

The Treasurer announced yesterday that we will be releasing a discussion paper with a suite of options on how we can make sure that we have very robust misuse of market power elements within our competition law and we need to look at that holistically. We need to talk to both big business and small business because the truth is competition is not a matter of big versus small, it is a matter of making sure that we protect the competitive process and we protect competition.

GILBERT:

Are you confident that you can keep everyone happy in an effects test?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

You can never in this world keep absolutely everybody happy but what we can do is we can listen to the arguments that have been put, we can actually work through some case studies. We can do this in a very methodical manner. It was very clear when Ian Harper responded in his report on this particular issue, he said this is not the be all and end all, this is not the sum total of his inquiry report, this is one element of it. He also said that his drafting was not the perfect drafting. So we are looking at that. We are speaking with small business, big business, all of those people in our economy who are going to be affected by potential changes and we are doing that methodically through a process, through a discussion paper and we have got a timeline on that that will be achieving that by March of next year.

GILBERT:

Well there's something that's of a longer timeline is the review into pharmacies that's out to past 2017. Why is it such a closed shop? How come pharmacies have been able to have essentially a closed shop for decades and no one's challenged it? Again the Government's delaying it ‘till after the next election.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We've just signed a new agreement so there's no point in actually re-opening that when it has just been signed, but of course we're going to make sure that taxpayers get the benefit of their taxpayer dollars, that we are making the system as efficient as we can make it, which is why we have said that the next scheduled time to be able to look at this is in 2017 as recommended within the Harper review.

GILBERT:

It needs to be dealt with though doesn't it? The fact that you have to be a pharmacist to own a pharmacy, that's fairly archaic isn't it?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We've said very clearly that the matters right now - obviously we have signed an agreement right at the moment. This is certainly up for discussion and review when the next opportunity comes up which is in 2017.

GILBERT:

On the states, which one needs to lift its game the most?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

I think most of the states have a bit of heavy lifting to do. There's no one state that gets a particular gold star on this. They all need to work together, as does the Commonwealth, in making sure that we can unlock growth in our economy and the Treasurer has put that very squarely on the table. This report, this inquiry says to the states that you are going to need to make sure that your health system is as efficient as it can possibly be. We're going to need to make sure that zoning and planning is as efficient as it can be. The reason for this is because when you look at things like zoning and planning, ultimately if it's not efficient, it adds to the cost of housing. We want to make sure that young Australians and those Australians who have been saving for quite a period of time in order to purchase their home can buy that home at the best price. So we need the most efficient system possible.

GILBERT:

My final question this morning relates to a Labor proposal today that domestic violence leave be afforded to victims of domestic violence, five days of extended annual leave, the Labor Party is saying that that will help the victim but also be of benefit to business as well by reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity as well. What do you make of this proposal?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Well I'm not sure what evidence they have to back that statement up. I think the point here is that domestic violence is a very serious issue and the Prime Minister has put that front and centre of our agenda. The Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, has announced a $100 million plan to tackle the root causes of domestic violence and to make it very clear that it is not acceptable in our community to not only disrespect women but to commit violence against women. There is no excuse at all. It breaks down families, it breaks down communities…

GILBERT:

So why not this idea?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

You have to be very careful here that you are not putting at a disadvantage those very people that you say you are seeking to help. You potentially can do that if you are going to make it more difficult for employers to employ women in circumstances where they have got very difficult arrangements. We want to help those women. We want to make sure that those women are helped and the domestic violence root causes are our key focus that's what we're doing as a Government.

GILBERT:

Well there is certainly going to be more on that. The Prime Minister is speaking at the White Ribbon breakfast shortly, we will have that live for our viewers. But in the meantime Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer appreciate it, thank you.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Great to speak with you Kieran.