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Speech: Turkish Chamber of Commerce Small Business Forum hosted by Craig Laundy MP, Bankstown, 10 September 2014

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I am back and I’m more than honoured to be back not as the Shadow Minister for Small Business but the Cabinet Minister for Small Business in the Abbott Government.

I particularly want to acknowledge our President Altug (Sanli) who puts his heart and soul into this organisation.

I particularly want to thank Altug because he’s still very happy about the basketball result. Australia and Turkey fought out a very honourable and close contest in the basketball game and a man who is not much taller than Altug ended up shooting two three pointers in the dying seconds for a nice win to Turkey by one point, congratulations you stood very well.

May I also acknowledge His Excellency Vice Consul Cafer Asik, you’ve seen Cafer but you might not know of the sacrifice and commitment he brings to his country. Cafer is back for just three days since being married, travelling on his honeymoon.

Finally if I could acknowledge my friend David Bannatyne. David is the General Manager for Small Business for the National Australia Bank.

National Australia Bank has for a long period of time been recognised as the key major bank supporting small business and it’s testament to that commitment David has joined us, he’s flown over from Melbourne, along with the state manager of NSW/ACT, also Victoria.

I particularly want to thank each and every one of you though. We need your enterprise and we value and respect your efforts and your achievements. When I spoke with you previously I explained how so many jobs are being lost in the small business economy.

There were 519,000 jobs lost in small business under the previous Government. The share of private sector employment declined quite dramatically and we saw this as an enormous concern for the future of our economy because it is men and women like yourself, entrepreneurs, courageous and committed individuals that see a business opportunity, put your heart and soul and, because our banking friends are here, sometimes mortgaging your house to pursue those opportunities for your benefit, for the benefit of the community and the benefit of the nation.

Government can’t guarantee business success in every area but what we can do is get out of your road.

That’s why our key commitments are around removing some taxes that make business in Australia harder to do than it needs to be.

We are focused on removing red tape so that we are not one of the most regulated, heavily compliance burden economies in the world.

We are working to open up new market opportunities so you can reach into new markets particularly in South East Asia.

It’s all about getting out of your road so that your entrepreneurship can flourish and deliver the benefits for the risks you take, for your families and your community.

Altug mentioned that for many in the Turkish Community, there is not a need to look as far afield as Australia.

There you are cradled between Europe and Asia, surrounded by possibilities. But I invite you to continue with your advocacy, the kind of demonstration and example you provide to others about how there are great opportunities in our country where entrepreneurship is valued and people just like you – and all of you are highly respected and admired for what you achieve.

The Government’s small business policy agenda is largely focused on reducing red tape, improving the business operating environment, and increasing the quality and effectiveness of Government engagement with small business. Our policy agenda is designed to increase the number of small business start-ups, encourage entrepreneurial behaviour, drive economic growth, as well as improve productivity and competitiveness.

Small businesses are an economic powerhouse. They make a vital contribution to the Australian economy and are an important driver of employment and innovation.

In 2012-13, small business contributed about one-third of private industry contributions to the economy.
Small businesses employ around 4.5 million Australians, accounting for about 43 per cent of private sector employment.

The Abbott Government recognises the importance of small business to the economy and to employment, growth and innovation, and we have plans to rebuild the sector.
As we’ve said many times in the past, small businesses are the real job creators in the economy.
At the same time, many small businesses have had difficulties, and most are grappling with incredibly burdensome layers of red tape.

Small business people around the country have told me their stories of attempting to make ends meet while keeping customers coming through the doors.

We are determined to restore business confidence. We want to turn around the fortunes of small businesses and reverse the decline in employment and prospects.

We are not only an economy that offers delicious opportunities whether it be baklava or other things, but we are also a gateway into Asia.

As Minister for Small Business, I am particularly committed to opening the door for small businesses to access opportunities to develop and grow their businesses in new markets and to provide more jobs locally.

This investment recognises and aims to build on the strength of our connection and partnership with China at all levels – across trade, investment, education, tourism and at the cultural and community level.

China is an attractive place offering delicious opportunities to grow our international small business export market which currently stands at $1.25 billion.

Our free trade agreements with Korea and Japan open up new possibilities for our services and our goods. I’m just back from China where I spent five days, again, showing the Chinese economy what it is we as Australian entrepreneurs and our businesses have to offer.

And I’m optimistic by the end of the year we’ll have a free trade agreement with China that sees mutual benefits to our country.

But with so many of you offering expertise and skills, service economy is a crucial area of opportunity.

For a number of you operating in the area of food and hospitality, the Chinese are hungry for food and beverages made in this country because of its reputation for quality, food security and safety.

And they are prepared to pay a premium for it. Some 600,000 Chinese visit Australia each year, coming here to enjoy our lifestyle, our natural attributes, our freedoms and our clean air.

They get that experience and they love it, but do you know what stays with them longest? It’s the culinary offer that we provide.

So many of you are part of that story – where the food and beverages, the hospitality that through your businesses is part of that experience.

You have shown great courage to bring your enterprise to this country to forge a wonderful contribution in this nation and again more opportunities are before us.

So I congratulate you tonight, we don’t celebrate entrepreneurship and business success as we should.

We don’t hold up the examples that you represent so others think, I too might follow in these footsteps.

But we need to do that so that we have that entrepreneurial spirit that runs deep in your veins, shared and spread more broadly in our economy.

So enjoy tonight, value your membership as part of the Sydney Turkish Chamber of Commerce. The network and insights you gain from each other, the learnings that can help open up new business opportunities in the future.

A chance to share one another’s friendship and the shared journey of being enterprising Australians doing so much for this nation which we should celebrate tonight.

I sincerely thank you, I value what you do, and I’m honoured to be back amongst you.

I thank you for being part of our nation of entrepreneurs showing what we can do. Please enjoy your evening.