Small Business and Employment

Supporting small business and employment in Mayo is very close to my heart, as I know that strong livelihoods are essential to positive social and economic outcomes for both individuals and the whole community.

I and my husband have run a small business in the electorate, so I know all too well that more needs to be done to reduce the barriers that people face in finding good employment, and that prevent small businesses from expanding and employing more staff.

This means:

  • Addressing rising energy costs, especially for small businesses
  • Supporting apprentices
  • Establishing an Advanced Manufacturing Fund for SA businesses
  • Establishing security of payment provisions for subcontractors
  • Recovering unpaid superannuation
  • Supporting small business tax cuts
  • Supporting the extension of the small business $20,000 instant asset write-off
  • Introducing the Seasonal Work Incentives Trial
  • Supporting our region’s vibrant wineries, craft brewers and distillers

 

Addressing rising energy costs

Rising energy costs have been a major impediment to small Mayo businesses expanding and employing more locals. Bickering between the major parties on energy policy has paralysed much of the potential investment in Australian energy, and, in tandem with the overwhelming market power of the large energy oligopolies, has driven up energy prices.

Economic and environmental considerations both point towards an inevitable change in our energy mix towards more renewable energy. I see my role as seeking to encourage a constructive political consensus on energy policy that provides relief from rising energy costs to both businesses and residents. If the two major parties cannot agree on energy policy, the entire country will continue to suffer.

Results:

  • Hosted a roadshow of workshops across the electorate with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), Off-Grid Energy Australia and Lucid Consulting
  • In May 2017, negotiated from the Government:
    • A firm deadline to bring about changes to National Electricity Market Rules by 1 July 2018 – these changes, properly designed and implemented, should bring investment certainty to the electricity sector and put in place measures that will bring electricity prices down whist increasing electricity security
    • A commitment by government to use its powers to ensure gas produced in Australia Australian was directed to the domestic market if a voluntary agreement had not been reached with gas companies by 1 July 2017
    • A commitment from Government to that longer-term public interest requirements have to be met for all future gas export contracts
    • An agreement to implement gas pricing and capacity transparency recommendations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) gas and Vertigan inquiries by 1 July 2017 to ensure that businesses negotiating gas supply contracts were not negotiating in the dark
    • An agreement that the Productivity Commission will examine the effect and appropriateness of gas company joint venture arrangements in the market place where there are limited suppliers
  • A $110 million low-interest loan from the Federal Government for installation of the Solar Thermal Plant in Port Augusta that will provide effective baseload power and is creating hundreds of jobs
  • Supported major renewable energy projects on Kangaroo Island

Speeches in Parliament:

Media Releases:

I have also asked Questions in Writing on the following topics:

  • Australian Liquid Fuel Security

 

Supporting apprentices

Apprenticeships are a tried and true pathway into skills development and steady employment.

Past apprenticeship mentoring programs have improved completion rates from approximately 50 per cent to an impressive 91 per cent. As a false economy, the Federal Government axed the program in 2014, and apprenticeship rates plummeted. I and my team negotiated for funding to restart these programs.

Results:

  • Negotiated $60m of funding to restart highly effective apprentice mentoring programs

Speeches in Parliament:

 

Advanced Manufacturing Fund for SA businesses

The closure of the Holden factory in Elizabeth highlights the importance of transitioning South Australian manufacturing into advanced methods and products. Although Australia is often described as a ‘services economy’, there are still tremendous opportunities in quality manufacturing that existing manufacturers can access with even some limited assistance from Government to retool and transform their businesses.

This approach formed the basis for negotiating with Government for an Advanced Manufacturing Fund.

Results:

  • Negotiated a $100m fund for an Advanced Manufacturing Fund for innovative advanced manufacturing businesses in South Australia and Victoria to grow, flourish, to find new markets and to develop new products and processes
  • $50m of those funds were designated to be allocated to South Australia businesses

Speeches in Parliament:

Media Releases:

 

Security of payments for subcontractors

Subcontractors rely heavily on cash flow, especially in the building and construction industry. When progress payments are delayed or when head contractors become insolvent, it is subcontractors who suffer the most hardship. ‘Security of payments’ laws help to guarantee a subcontractor still gets paid by requiring that money is set aside in trust by the head contractor.

Results:

  • Negotiated with the Government to establish a Security of Payments Working Group, which will make recommendations on the optimal structure and content of a model Security of Payment Act that would be capable of being adopted in all jurisdictions
  • The recommendations of that Group have now been released, and the Government is considering how it will act on those recommendations

Media Releases:

 

Recovering unpaid superannuation

There are an estimated 2.4 million workers in Australia who have been underpaid their super, reducing retirement savings by approximately $3.6 billion.

2016, 12,896 employees in Mayo were known to have been underpaid their Super, missing out on an average $1,748 per person each year.  This amounts to a staggering 28% of all employees in Mayo who are being underpaid their entitlements. This is not fair on employees, and not fair on the majority of businesses who do the right thing and are being illegally undercut by their competition.

When people report the issue to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), who has the power to act, not nearly enough is being done to recover people’s hard-earned super.

This is why I introduced a Private Member’s Bill with a range of measures to help people recover their super, and to help close the loopholes which unfairly disadvantage employees, such as employees being forced into super funds against their will.

Results:

  • Introduced a Private Member’s Bill to help employees recover unpaid superannuation and to close loopholes being exploited by unscrupulous employers, and lobbied the Government to adopt the measures contained within the Bill
  • The Government later adopted several of the measures in my Private Member’s Bill, including:
    • Removing the restriction upon choice of superannuation in enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs)
    • Removing the loophole which allowed employers to claim salary-sacrificed super as if it was an employer superannuation contribution
  • In its 2018 Budget, the Government increased its funding to the ATO by $133.7 million over 4 years to help combat and recover unpaid super

Speeches in Parliament:

Media Releases:

I have also asked Questions in Writing on the following topics:

  • Financial protections for superannuants
  • Unpaid superannuation

 

Supporting tax cuts for small business

I and my Senate colleagues supported tax cuts for small businesses, and only small businesses. Small local business have a strong track record of using tax cuts to employ more local workers.

Results:

  • My support and the support of my Senate colleagues was critical for the passage through the Parliament of tax cuts for small businesses
  • Similarly, the $20,000 instant-asset write off for small businesses was extended to 30 June 2018 with my support and the support of my Senate colleagues

Speeches in Parliament:

 

Seasonal Work Incentives Trial

Fruit growers in Mayo struggle to source all the labour they need during the picking seasons, and they currently rely heavily on foreign backpackers. However, youth unemployment and underemployment is a problem across South Australia and Australia, so I worked to negotiate a trial program with the Federal Government that would encourage local jobseekers to try out seasonal work in horticulture without it affecting their Centrelink payments. The intention was to help create a more stable workforce for horticultural businesses and to help to reduce youth unemployment, especially in the regions.

The result was the introduction of the two-year Seasonal Work Incentives Trial, under which jobseekers receiving Newstart or Youth Allowance (Other) for more than three months are eligible to earn $5,000 each year from seasonal work without losing their social security payments.

Results:

  • Successfully negotiated the introduction of the Seasonal Work Incentives Trial
  • The two-year trial started on 1 July 2017 and will allow up to 6000 Australian job seekers to do seasonal work and earn up to $5,000 without affecting income support payments

Speeches in Parliament:

Media Releases:

I have also asked Questions in Writing on the following topics:

  • Implementation of the Seasonal Workers Incentive Scheme

 

Supporting our region’s vibrant wineries, craft brewers and distillers

Mayo is tourism hotspot for premium and boutique wineries, craft brewers, and craft distillers. These businesses are strong tourism attractions in their own right, and help to drive foot traffic and support other business in our region. I have worked hard to cut red tape and create fairer reforms for these small businesses, especially for start-up and boutique craft brewers and distillers.

Results:

  • Successfully lobbied the Treasurer for reforms to beer excise for craft brewers, including a lowering of the excise rate on small craft brewer kegs to align it with the lower rate of excise on larger commercial kegs
  • Engaged in widespread stakeholder consultation ahead of supporting reforms to the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) in Parliament
  • Lobbied for reforms to irregularities in cider definitions for the purposes of excise
  • Lobbied for reforms to gin and spirits excise for craft distillers

Speeches in Parliament:

Media Releases:

I have also asked Questions in Writing on the following topics:

  • Craft gin distilleries and taxation on spirits; spending on alcohol education
  • Irregularities in cider excise (follow-up)
  • Excise differences on beer keg sizes
  • Irregularities in cider excise