28th Annual Ethnic Business Awards

  • Speech, check against delivery

Thank you Joseph (Assaf), and congratulations to you on yourextraordinary commitment to ethnic business in Australia.

I acknowledge my colleague, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells theMinister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Zed Seselja theAssistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, MichaelSukkar the Member for Deakin, the Honourable Philip Ruddock a former HowardGovernment Cabinet Minister and a great champion of ethnic communities acrossAustralia.

I acknowledge the Honourable Tony Burke and the Honourable AnthonyAlbanese from the opposition.

Ladies and Gentlemen, sponsors, judges.

It is an absolute delight to be here this evening at the Annual EthnicBusiness Awards.

Established almost three decades ago, and a cause of celebration for ourethnic multicultural society, as we are united in our commitment to sharedvalues of freedom, tolerance and opportunity.

Our nation is as old as the First Australians, the oldest continuoushuman culture in history, and as young as the newest migrants who have comefrom all over the world to make a home in Australia.

Indeed Australia has been built on immigration. Since the Second WorldWar over seven and a half million people have migrated to Australia. In factabout half of all Australians have one parent born overseas, about a quarter ofall Australians were themselves born overseas.

Australia is a magnificent destination for people from all over theworld. Let's face it; we have one of the highest standards of living and one ofthe best lifestyles in the world. We've been described as a 'lifestylesuperpower'. Melbourne is consistently judged as one of the most livable citieson earth – there are a couple of other Australian cities who make that list aswell from time to time!

We have welcomed people, embraced people, integrated people into ourcommunities from every corner of the earth.

We are a land of freedom. We are committed to the rule of law anddemocratic institutions, and the rights of individuals.

We are a land of opportunity. People with an entrepreneurial spirit andthe drive to work hard can find success in Australia and build a better lifefor their families.

Small business and business generally in Australia, the backbone of oureconomy, is synonymous in multicultural Australia for so many of our successfulbusinesses are owned and operated by migrants, the children of migrants, thegrandchildren of migrants, it's multigenerational.

I am very proud that the party I represent, the Liberal Party, wasactually founded as a party for small business. Our founding leader andAustralia's longest serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, articulated avision for this new party in a speech entitled 'The Forgotten People' in 1942,and he spoke of small business as being a core responsibility of our party.

Today small businesses, and particularly ethnic businesses, have playeda critical role in driving a record run of economic growth in Australia – 25consecutive years of economic growth. This year about 3 per cent, above that ofthe major economies of the G7, and we've seen about 300,000 jobs created overthe last 12 months.

But if we are to continue to see economic growth and business success,we have to be innovative, we have to find new ways to do things better, and wehave to be more competitive, for we operate in a global marketplace.

Now that's what business does each and every day, they find new andbetter ways to do their business, to provide their services. They embracetechnology, they change, they adapt, they are flexible.

That's why the Turnbull Government last year established the NationalInnovation and Science Agenda, putting it at the heart of what we believe willbe our continued economic success.

This means we support startups, we support alternative forms of funding,we support those who embrace technology and science and innovative ideas toensure that whether the business is new or old, they keep ahead of the pack,and innovation is the key and Australian business knows that. We have manypioneers who have come up with world-leading ideas in many diverse fields.

So the stories we'll hear tonight are about those who have succeeded, inbeing innovative, creative, and who have found success.

The government's role, whoever is the government, is to create anenvironment where business can flourish, and that's why we have negotiated andconcluded three significant free trade agreements with China, Japan, SouthKorea, and we recently enhanced our free trade agreement with Singapore. Thisgives Australian businesses the opportunity to export their goods and servicesinto some of the largest markets in the growing Asian region.

We have to have a competitive tax system. That's why we have establisheda ten year enterprise tax plan, so that over the next decade the tax rate forall business will be 25 per cent, which makes us internationally competitive.And for those businesses that aren't corporations, we have tax discounts.

This means that there will be more money in the pockets of businesseswho can then re-invest in their businesses, employ more people and grow theirbusinesses.

We've also provided incentives and packages to businesses so that theycan employ more people – young and old – and more affordable childcare so thatmore women can come back into the workforce while raising a family.

I think some of the most exciting stories we'll hear tonight will be inthe award for Indigenous Business, as this will showcase the great diversityand creativity and talent of Indigenous Australians.

I believe that through these businesses we are seeing the role modelsfor today and the leaders for tomorrow.

The Australian Government has an Indigenous Procurement Policy, whichmeans that 3 per cent of Federal Government contracts are allocated toIndigenous businesses. It's working very well and I would encourage the privatesector to follow suit.

So ladies and gentlemen, tonight we are here to celebrate these awardswhich recognise one of the fundamental pillars of our success as a nation, thatis, dynamic, creative businesses backed by a cultural understanding, a culturalheritage from the ethnic communities from where these came.

It's a great night and I congratulate all the nominees and the winnerson their success in being recognised this evening.

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