Thank you Joseph (Assaf), and congratulations to you on your
extraordinary commitment to ethnic business in Australia.
I acknowledge my colleague, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells the
Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Zed Seselja the
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Michael
Sukkar the Member for Deakin, the Honourable Philip Ruddock a former Howard
Government Cabinet Minister and a great champion of ethnic communities across
I acknowledge the Honourable Tony Burke and the Honourable Anthony
Albanese from the opposition.
Ladies and Gentlemen, sponsors, judges.
It is an absolute delight to be here this evening at the Annual Ethnic
Established almost three decades ago, and a cause of celebration for our
ethnic multicultural society, as we are united in our commitment to shared
values of freedom, tolerance and opportunity.
Our nation is as old as the First Australians, the oldest continuous
human culture in history, and as young as the newest migrants who have come
from all over the world to make a home in Australia.
Indeed Australia has been built on immigration. Since the Second World
War over seven and a half million people have migrated to Australia. In fact
about half of all Australians have one parent born overseas, about a quarter of
all Australians were themselves born overseas.
Australia is a magnificent destination for people from all over the
world. Let’s face it; we have one of the highest standards of living and one of
the best lifestyles in the world. We’ve been described as a ‘lifestyle
superpower’. Melbourne is consistently judged as one of the most livable cities
on earth – there are a couple of other Australian cities who make that list as
well from time to time!
We have welcomed people, embraced people, integrated people into our
communities from every corner of the earth.
We are a land of freedom. We are committed to the rule of law and
democratic institutions, and the rights of individuals.
We are a land of opportunity. People with an entrepreneurial spirit and
the drive to work hard can find success in Australia and build a better life
for their families.
Small business and business generally in Australia, the backbone of our
economy, is synonymous in multicultural Australia for so many of our successful
businesses are owned and operated by migrants, the children of migrants, the
grandchildren of migrants, it’s multigenerational.
I am very proud that the party I represent, the Liberal Party, was
actually founded as a party for small business. Our founding leader and
Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, articulated a
vision 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 played
a critical role in driving a record run of economic growth in Australia – 25
consecutive years of economic growth. This year about 3 per cent, above that of
the major economies of the G7, and we’ve seen about 300,000 jobs created over
the 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 we
have to be more competitive, for we operate in a global marketplace.
Now that’s what business does each and every day, they find new and
better ways to do their business, to provide their services. They embrace
technology, they change, they adapt, they are flexible.
That’s why the Turnbull Government last year established the National
Innovation and Science Agenda, putting it at the heart of what we believe will
be 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 to
ensure 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 many
pioneers 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, in
being innovative, creative, and who have found success.
The government’s role, whoever is the government, is to create an
environment where business can flourish, and that’s why we have negotiated and
concluded three significant free trade agreements with China, Japan, South
Korea, and we recently enhanced our free trade agreement with Singapore. This
gives Australian businesses the opportunity to export their goods and services
into some of the largest markets in the growing Asian region.
We have to have a competitive tax system. That’s why we have established
a ten year enterprise tax plan, so that over the next decade the tax rate for
all 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 businesses
who can then re-invest in their businesses, employ more people and grow their
We’ve also provided incentives and packages to businesses so that they
can employ more people – young and old – and more affordable childcare so that
more 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 in
the award for Indigenous Business, as this will showcase the great diversity
and creativity and talent of Indigenous Australians.
I believe that through these businesses we are seeing the role models
for today and the leaders for tomorrow.
The Australian Government has an Indigenous Procurement Policy, which
means that 3 per cent of Federal Government contracts are allocated to
Indigenous businesses. It’s working very well and I would encourage the private
sector to follow suit.
So ladies and gentlemen, tonight we are here to celebrate these awards
which recognise one of the fundamental pillars of our success as a nation, that
is, dynamic, creative businesses backed by a cultural understanding, a cultural
heritage from the ethnic communities from where these came.
It’s a great night and I congratulate all the nominees and the winners
on their success in being recognised this evening.
- Ends -
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