New minister sworn in, off to work

THE new Federal Minister for Small Business, Brendan O'Connor, had barely been sworn in as a Minister of the Crown before Page MP Janelle Saffin was on his case.

Ms Saffin has confirmed she has already invited Mr O'Connor, who was sworn in as Minister this afternoon, to visit her electorate.

Ms Saffin praised the appointment and Prime Minister Julia Gillard's decision to raise the portfolio to the level of cabinet, saying it showed the Prime Minister was listening to the pleas of small businesses.

"I had pushed for this inclusion, along with the Northern Rivers- NSW Business Chamber led by regional manager John Murray," Ms Saffin said.

 "Given that small business is the backbone of the economy and not other sectors, contrary to what is frequently written, it is imperative that their Minister have a seat at the Cabinet table.

 "I had organised for the Chamber Regional Manager John Murray to have a meeting with the Minister for Small Business, Senator Mark Arbib in Canberra in March

 "After the changes last week I told John to wait until we had a new Minister in place and I would get the meeting confirmed with them. 

 "I have now done that with dates to be confirmed. 

 "Minister Arbib had also accepted my invitation to visit us in Page, with a date to be set. I have now extended that invitation to Minister O'Connor and he has accepted, with a date to be announced soon.

 "In another development in Canberra, a Small Business Group has been set up within the Federal Parliamentary Labor Caucus, with members who want to advocate and communicate better for and with small business. 

 "Some Government changes made already, including tax cuts, the $6500 instant tax write off, the single system of business name registration, portable qualifications for trades men and women, the superannuation clearing house, and more, need to be better explained and not in 50 page documents with tortuous language! 

 "I have also publicly called for a Federal Small Business Commissioner, as someone who can be an advocate for small business.  With Minister Arbib I had gained strong support and I have already sent a letter to Minister O'Connor. 

 "As always, I will continue the conversation with local small businesses about what the Government can reasonably do to keep our local economy strong."

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