Members will be aware of my passion for small and micro business. Before entering parliament, I ran my own microbusiness for 10 years, and I loved it. Since entering parliament, I have spent a great deal of my time talking to small business operators in my electorate and advocating for their needs and interests. That is why I am so concerned for the plight of the Canberra small business community.
On 22 May this year, the member for North Sydney spoke at the National Press Club about Australian small business. Ironically, in the same speech he reaffirmed the coalition's plans to cut thousands of jobs from the public service in Canberra. Doesn't the coalition realise that cutting 12,000 to 20,000 public service jobs in Canberra will also devastate Canberra's small business community?
In 1996 the Howard government cut 15,000 jobs from the public service in Canberra, and I had one of those jobs. The flow-on effects to Canberra's small business community were devastating. Fifteen thousand jobs meant 15,000 people no longer spending on Canberra's small businesses, buying their products and using their services. Business bankruptcies in Canberra increased by 38.4 per cent in the 1996-97 financial year.
With between 12,000 and 20,000 public servants set to go should the coalition win in September, the prospects for small business could be bleak. It seems the coalition has one plan for small businesses in other states and territories and a different one for Canberra's. Canberra: the best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour — (Time expired)