Small business debate dominates Parliament

Small business took centre stage in Federal Parliament for the first time since the election of the Rudd Government yesterday, with both sides of politics spruiking their pro-business credentials.

The Coalition used question time in the house of representatives to challenge Labor over declining business confidence, pointing to a recent Sensis survey showing a drop in support for Government policies.

Opposition small business spokesman Steven Ciobo sought to attack Prime Minster Kevin Rudd over the survey result, asking whether he “understands the impact of the Government’s policies on Australia’s 2.4 million small businesses?”

Rudd hit back by holding the Coalition responsible for current high rates of inflation, in doing so appearing more comfortable with the language of small business than some of his predecessors.

“We are fully supportive of the activities of all those entrepreneurs out there risking capital, working hard and doing their bit to raise an income for their families and to boost the long-term growth of their businesses,” Rudd said.

Opposition deputy leader Julie Bishop was the next to get to her feet on the issue, accusing Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard of damaging confidence by disparaging small business through her comments last year accusing some businesses of breaching workplace standards.

Gillard responded by highlighting mechanisms such as the small business working group established by the Government to increase small business input in to policy.

“Let me tell you what small businesses want when it comes to the Australian economy. They want a sense of being included in Government policy making,” Gillard said. “And what is this Government doing? We are including them in Government policy making.”

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