Release type: Speech


Small Business Development Conference


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment
Minister for Women
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP
Assistant Treasurer
Minister for Small Business

Joint pre-recorded address: Small business development conference, Melbourne


Thank you for inviting Minister Cash and I to speak at the 2015 Small Business Development Conference.

We wish we could be there in person however I am confident there will many other opportunities in the future to meet with you all.

The theme of the conference - Presence, Profitability and Performance in a new era - is very timely indeed.

These are exciting times for both the Australian economy and for Australians more personally.

The speed of communication means – moreover it requires – that ideas can be hatched one moment and be presented to the global marketplace in the blink of an eye.

Innovation is continuously evolving at such a rapid pace that it is essential to keep up or risk being left behind.


In our respective portfolios – Small Business and Employment – Minister O’Dwyer and I are tasked with putting in place the appropriate legislative framework to ensure that you can grasp the opportunities that exist in the 21st Century and create the jobs of tomorrow.

We must never lose sight of the fact that Governments do not create jobs – employers create jobs.

This Government is committed to ensuring that we produce the best conditions to support employers who are looking to start up or expand.

As economies and market conditions evolve, it is our responsibility to ensure that we evolve accordingly.

Governments who stand still for too long do a disservice by the business community and in turn, jeopardise job creation opportunities.


It has long been acknowledged by consecutive Coalition Governments that small business is the engine room of the Australian economy.

This is made clear by the fact that small business accounts for 97 per cent of all businesses in Australia.

You can be assured that this Government is strongly committed to working with you to ensure the right business environment exists for small businesses and start-ups to be nimble, innovative and thrive in today’s new era.

We must encourage small businesses to not settle for mediocracy but rather take risks and seize opportunities, for these are the employers who inevitably realise their growth potential and create more jobs.

The decisions to embed small business policy in the Department of Treasury, the elevation of the Small Business portfolio to a Cabinet position and significant measures for small business delivered in this year’s Budget have hopefully sent a clear signal to you all – this Government backs small business and we back you.


As a proud West Australian I have had a front row view of the resources boom, which has brought such enormous wealth and opportunity to Australia.

However it has not, as some would like to argue, been a result of good fortune alone. It has required targeted infrastructure investment, sound policy settings and no small measure of hard work for Australia to capitalise on this opportunity.

To take advantage of the opportunities of the 21st Century and realise the jobs growth that can result, we must also be prepared with the right policy settings and place our eggs in the right baskets.

The opportunity presented by the three Free Trade Agreements the Coalition Government has signed with Japan, Korea and China is immense. They offer an opportunity for Australian businesses to expand, to diversify and create many thousands of new jobs that would otherwise not exist.


Improving productivity growth will also be absolutely critical in order to maintain the standard of living to which we have become accustomed. Two areas that will be central to this objective are innovation and deregulation.

It should come as no surprise that the Prime Minister is absolutely focused on innovation. He, like all members of the Government understands that if we do not innovate we will not keep up in today’s dynamic global economy.

To support an innovative and competitive Australia we need to foster the right culture, harness the right talent, develop ideas and remove all unnecessary regulatory barriers that impede good ideas moving from inception to commercialisation.

Regulation has grown rapidly over recent decades and has inhibited growth. It has created substantial costs for individuals, businesses and community organisations. Overregulation demands small business owners spend time conforming to arduous amounts of red and green tape rather than growing their business or spending time with their loved ones.


The Government has made significant progress in relation to deregulation.

Since the 2013 election, we have announced more than $2.45 billion in red tape savings, exceeding our original goal to remove $1 billion each and every year.

We will not stop in this important endeavour.

Unnecessary regulation leads to unnecessary complexity. It leads to uncertainty, impedes productivity, inhibits innovation, and stifles entrepreneurship – all of which reduces the potential for you to create more jobs.

Overregulation has been a plague on small business and we are intent on removing as much as possible – your future prosperity and the ability of the Australian economy to innovate relies on us doing so.


In closing, I would like to reiterate how important small business is not only to the economy more broadly but to the Coalition Government’s vision to create the innovative nation that we need to be to thrive in the 21st Century.


I look forward to meeting with many of you in the near future to talk about what you need from the workplace relations system in Australia and (putting on my other portfolio hat) to discuss how we can increase women’s participation in the workforce.

We hope you have a very productive and enjoyable conference.