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I would first like to acknowledge Consul General, Li Huaxin; Vice Consul, Ying Tang; Consul Can Wang; Consul Jiang Tao Han; Chief Representative of China Foreign Experts Affairs Office in Australia, Mr Jingfa Wan; State Member for Strathfield, Mr Charles Casuscelli MP; State Member for Oatley, Mark Coure MP; Deputy Mayor of Kogarah, Annie Tang and other distinguished guests that we have here with us this evening.
Thank you for inviting me to be here tonight.
Business has certainly faced challenges this year; this of course can be attributed to the election year, which, has a reputation for reducing consumer confidence, but the fruitful forecasted retail figures for this year’s Christmas spending is evidence that a change of government has restored the confidence of consumers.
I know that many of you here tonight are small business owners.
The Coalition has always widely held the view that small businesses are the economic life blood of communities.
We promised before the election that we would restore confidence in the small business sector, encourage growth, drive employment and innovation.
I am pleased to say that we have begun this by fulfilling our commitment to appoint a Minister for Small Business to Cabinet, with The Hon Bruce Billson MP sworn in as Minister for Small Business on the 18th September this year.
Furthermore the Coalition has announced that we will undertake a comprehensive review of competition laws and policy – the first move in more than twenty years.
The long overdue competition review will examine not only the current laws but the broader competition framework, to increase productivity and efficiency in markets by identifying microeconomic reforms and long-term improvements to build strong foundations for a more productive and competitive 21st century Australian economy.
In addition to competition review we have a launched a new helpline with the Fair Work Ombudsman for small business.
Small businesses that contact the Fair Work Ombudsman will now receive priority service which will help them to efficiently improve their understanding of laws so they are confident to grow, invest, create jobs and of course reduce stress on small business owners.
With the dismal announcement of 2013-14 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook yesterday, it would be understandable for businesses to be nervous of the future ahead. There are many obstacles that we now face but the Coalition will undertake the necessary reforms and help create the right environment for the economy to get back on track and support growth.
The National Commission of Audit is examining the role and scope of government and the efficiency of government spending. It will be guided by three principals, that the government should: live within its means; have respect for taxpayers in the care with which they spend every dollar; and do for people what they cannot do, or cannot do for themselves.
We know that fixing the budget is not a short-term task, but we believe we will restore the budget.
Before I finish I would to acknowledge and thank the President of the Southern Region Chinese Business Association, Benjamin Jiang, for his contribution to the St George business community.
And finally I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.