Government has ridden business too hard in recent times and a change in culture has been promised by Minister Jann Stuckey (pictured). She explains her vision to Gold Coast Business News.
How difficult has it been to get across all the issues in your diverse portfolio?
All sections of my portfolio responsibilities are intrinsically linked – tourism, major events, small business and the Commonwealth Games. Small businesses comprise an overwhelming majority of the $17 billion tourism industry. I have been holding a series of group and individual meetings with department heads and key bodies like Tourism Queensland, Events Queensland and the Commonwealth Games. Tourism has been identified by the State Government as one of the four pillars that will drive the Queensland economy, and we are working hard to deliver hope and opportunity to all regions of this great State.
What are the biggest challenges facing small business in 2012?
The State Government has pledged to cut the suffocating red tape, waste and over-regulation that have hampered small businesses and the tourism sector over the past couple of decades. The government is determined to get this state back on track – by identifying and delivering opportunities for business – which will create more jobs.
What does the government plan to do to reduce costs on business?
The government will raise the payroll tax exemption from $1 million to $1.6 million over six years. That action will help 20,000 small and medium businesses – and help support jobs for Queenslanders. The government will also abolish the costly Waste Levy – a great saving for many businesses. We have also pledged to slash red tape and regulation by 20 per cent and ensure there is a change in the culture of government to get off the back of business. A strong business sector will grow the economy and create jobs – thereby contributing to the government’s 4 per cent unemployment target in six years.
What red tape regulations are in the firing line?
Government red tape is the primary concern of business – especially small business. More than a third of all complaints and inquiries to government are about registration and licences. Research has also found that small businesses are spending almost 500 hours a year on red tape. There are issues involved in starting up and registering a business. My department will be identifying the areas where government can streamline processes and tackle compliance costs. A single national registration process for Australian Business Numbers will come into effect in May. The LNP government will repeal the previous Labor government’s Industry Waste Levy which would’ve dumped more red tape and costs on businesses – and cut into small business cash flows and profit.
Will cutting red tape risk compromising regulatory oversight?
While the government is intent on making life easier for those who invest money in small business – there’s no intention of eliminating or compromising necessary regulation on business. What the LNP government intends to do is encourage
people to invest in businesses and create opportunities that will benefit the state. A strong state economy is our main aim – and you can only achieve that if you can provide opportunities and incentives for those who put their money on the line. A buoyant business climate means more jobs – and this government has pledged to reduce unemployment in this state in six years. What government can do to help is cut waste – and reduce state debt. When government tightens its belt and lives within its means, it doesn’t need to impose ever higher taxes and charges on taxpayers and businesses.
The LNP has promised to pay providers within 30 days. How will this be achieved?
Simple! Departments will be informed that paying their bills on time is government policy. The clear direction from the government is that departments are to ensure that they pay all bills from suppliers to government involving contracts up to $1 million within 30 days. Business can do without bureaucratic bottlenecks and red tape that cut into their cash flow. My department is also running workshops for suppliers who want to find out about and take advantage of government tendering opportunities. These measures are all about changing the culture in government to one that recognises that a healthy and happy business environment helps everyone.
The Premier has order cost-cutting. Won’t this adversely affect government business and its suppliers?
The LNP is simply bringing some fiscal discipline to the business of government. If departments don’t rein in expenditure then the budget bottom line will suffer and Queensland will go deeper into debt. All Queenslanders will eventually pay the price through increased taxes and charges. Small business has been hurt by the runaway government spending of the past. The LNP government is determined to give Queensland a strong, healthy economy in which business owners can thrive and create jobs.
What can you do to get tourism back on track, particularly on the Gold Coast?
The Gold Coast has suffered badly from neglect by the previous government, not only in tourism, but also in the area of law and order. The Gold Coast is one of the world’s best known tourism destinations – and the new government is determined to make sure we preserve and promote its reputation. Through our tourism policies, and the whole-of-government DestinationQ strategy, we will get the industry directly involved in mapping out the future of tourism for all
regions of Queensland. A huge boost to the Gold Coast and the surrounding region will be the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The games will deliver an enormous economic boost to the Gold Coast as well as delivering positive benefits throughout Queensland.
What can be done to assist small business and tourism operators to employ new staff and retain employees tempted by mining jobs?
The LNP government will reform and revamp the training system with a focus on producing job-ready employees. The
government is establishing a Skills and Training Taskforce and we’ll provide $86 million for 10,000 additional apprentices to meet the looming skills shortage.
Would a cross-border commissioner (similar to the NSW position) help businesses operating in both states and
will one be appointed?
As a local member representing a border electorate, I will be engaging regularly with the NSW cross-border commissioner, Steve Toms. I have already met with the commissioner a number of weeks ago and
I look forward to working closely with him on identifying, reviewing and streamlining cross-border issues that affect residents and businesses in the border community of the Gold Coast that sits in my electorate. At this stage, the LNP Government does not have immediate plans for the introduction of a similar position in Queensland. However,
I have committed to watching this unique model closely with a view to determining if such a position could be beneficial to our side of the border.
You are one of three women in a 19-strong cabinet. Is this a fair gender representation?
The LNP has a grassroots membership of 14,000 and its women have made a huge contribution to the party’s phenomenal success. Women like Saxon Rice took on the Labor Party’s Deputy Premier and won a long and tough election battle. I’m sure that the successes that LNP women had in the last election will inspire more women to make a real political impact in Queensland politics.
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