| June 14, 2017

Questions regarding Indigenous Affairs policy

I take this opportunity to ask a series of questions in relation to what the government is doing to support Indigenous and small business. The government have made supporting small business a priority through the National Economic Plan for Jobs and Growth, which, of course, includes our commitment to reduce the corporate tax rate of small businesses. I have taken this economic angle because that is how the Indigenous issues around my area of Murray, particularly around Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley, have been explained to me. They are very much economic issues. I understand the various tax cuts and the corporate tax rates coming down for small business, the immediate tax write-off for items less purchased for less than $20,000, the simplified trading stock rules and the options to avoid end of year stocktakes if the value of that stock has changed by less than $5,000.

In the electorate of Murray, supporting small business and employment is key to growing the regional economy and it is important that Indigenous Australians are part of that growth. In areas of the Goulburn Valley, we have the Yorta Yorta people and the Bangerang people. Only last week I was able to take the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, Minister Ken Wyatt, to the Shepparton region to inspect the Rumbalara elders facility. It looks just like an aged-care facility, however it is housed with Indigenous elders and residents and has Indigenous healthcare workers and Indigenous gardeners. It is an amazing experience to see what is happening there. As we know, Minister Wyatt is the first Indigenous Australian to be a member of cabinet. He was able to witness the issues firsthand. I have taken the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister Nigel Scullion, to look at all the facilities that the Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative have to offer in relation to sporting facilities, health facilities and aged care.

Elder uncle Paul Briggs has put a cost on the Indigenous issues around the Goulburn Valley and in particular Shepparton. He has done the work and he has compared the Indigenous cohort around the Goulburn Valley, particularly Shepparton, with mainstream society. He looked at the cost of domestic violence, alcohol and drug addiction, the greater rates of school refusal and truancy, unemployment within his people, breaking the law and all the issues associated with incarceration and he has been able to put a cost on it. He wants to have the conversation about how we can reduce his people's cost on society, how we can invest and partner with them to bring about better outcomes. As he puts it, this is a cost that is being paid now and no-one is overly concerned about this cost because it is just absorbed into the everyday spend of all governments. As well as supporting Indigenous businesses, he is looking at ways that we can continue to partner with Indigenous businesses to create better outcomes in a whole raft of areas that he has identified. Assistant Minister, given this raft of measures that we have implemented to support all Australian small business, can the minister advise whether we are introducing specific measures to support Indigenous businesses and boost Indigenous employment? Are there measures specifically for Indigenous businesses?

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