Launch of ‘The Village’ at NAB, Melbourne

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This is a very exciting project. It’s a big bank walking the talk which understands how big a deal small business is to our economy and to our community.

For those of you who don’t know, I am from the great southern hemisphere capital of Frankston. Our economy is small business and family run enterprises. We know when that part of our economy is doing well – there’s vitality, there’s opportunity, there are livelihoods within reach. And that’s what is so important about this venture. It’s good to see people having a go and building an entrepreneurial eco-system that is supportive of that enterprise. That says if you have that sparkle in your eye and that fire in your belly – we’d like you to have a go. We recognise and respect that courage. We know the risks involved and we know there are many headwinds but if we as a community can embrace that enterprise, reduce some of those headwinds to create success, we as a nation, we as an economy and we as a community benefit.

That’s what’s so impressive about what is going on here. I’ve got a plan to see a renaissance in small business-but we can’t do it on our own.

For those small business men and women, sometimes it’s just too hard. A bit of advice, a bit of encouragement, some wise council, a chance to get alongside a pathfinder who has tackled those obstacles and overcome them and to benefit from that wisdom and encouragement is so important.

It’s just like an idea in politics needs to be worked at, an idea in enterprise needs that supportive environment as well and that’s what’s so fantastic about The Village. But it’s also about what else is going on out here.

I understand about 300 small enterprises have been nurtured and supported since the opening of this facility. Some 200 community based organisations, social enterprises if you will, have been drawing from the expertise, the insights and the support. This has got to be a good thing for our community and our economy.

Let me share with you a stat. In the last six years 412,000 jobs have been lost in small business. That share of the private sector workforce which has been talked about today has gone from 53 percent to 43 percent. There are today 3000 fewer small businesses employing people than in 2007. That’s a trajectory we have to arrest.

We have to turn that trajectory around and see growth in small business and family enterprises. If we imagine what the over the horizon economy looks like, we will kick ourselves for not supporting and nurturing the entrepreneurship at the grass roots in community’s right across our country.

The Village provides a chance for people with that sparkle in their eye and that fire in their belly to benefit from the wisdom and encouragement and the insights and expertise that’s available to them. Why? Because we want them to be successful.

We want people inclined to have a go, to feel that there are people there with them. Sometimes, just being able to talk with people about your idea, your ambition can be the greatest nourishment.

We want to get rid of that red tape; we want to encourage people to start small businesses. We want to make sure that finance is affordable and available. We want to tackle some of the obstacles and we also want people to know we are there cheering for them, supporting their enterprise, willing and working with them to succeed.

It’s great to be here with NAB – they are the leading business banker. I hope the other banks take that challenge up too cause with competition we will get better products, better innovation and more affordable finance.

This is about turning up – not just servicing small business, but partnering, being an ally, an advocate, a source of support and inspiration.