Bush Matters Op-Ed – “Making the most of it”

15 May 2015

15 May 2014 –

The life of a politician can often make you feel like you exist on a never ending treadmill of airports and air travel.

Being forced to sit for hours on end, silent and stationery, in my seat on the plane, I have taken to listening to podcasts to pass the time.

I am relatively new to podcasts and have been impressed that you can manage to download a program on just about any topic you can think of.

I found myself becoming increasingly interested in the mechanics of these podcasts – the questions asked, how the content was raised.

So this week in Canberra I recorded my first podcast. It was recorded in the audio studio at Parliament House.

It is currently being edited and I look forward to presenting something in the coming weeks.

I wanted my podcast to shine a light on the back stories on some of our community leaders.

I wanted to know what brought them to public life.

My first choice of interview subject was Chief Government Whip and LNP Federal Member for Wright Scott Buchholz.

I must say from the outset that it was no mere coincidence that Scott Buchholz was my first choice.

We can lay claim to probably being the only members of federal parliament to have grown up together on the same street. In our case, it was Goodson Street in Rockhampton.

Sitting in the booth wearing our head phones and our mouths to the microphones, our discussion was easy and relaxed – the kind of conversation only people who have known each other for many years can enjoy.

And I think we gradually touched on a topic that really sums up the focus of this week in Canberra.

Scotty Buchholz, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him, is one of those old school blokes.

He’s the sort of straight up and down bloke who you instinctively know when you shake his hand that the deal is as good as done.

It doesn’t surprise me at all that his political career has led into the Chief Whip position.

It is a position that serves as a liason between the Prime Minister and the backbenchers.

The person must be able to have people trust them quickly and know that any messages or instructions are relayed faithfully and genuinely.

It requires a set of interpersonal skills that not everyone is capable of and, as we spoke in the recoding booth, Scott and I began to wonder what parts of our personal stories brought out these traits later in life.

Our conversation again turned to Goodson Street.

Goodson Street in the 1960s was the kind of place where kids pulled off fence palings to use as cricket bats and a couple of fallen mangoes became the cricket balls.

It was a street where bundles of kids would stretch from the under the dining table to the front doorway to watch the only television in the street.

All the families knew each other and everyone shared in the ups and downs of life.

As we recounted our experiences, we agreed that Goodson Street laid a firm foundation in both of our psyches that would sustain us as we went out into the world to stake our claim.

Both Scott and I would leave Goodson Street and head west when we were old enough – I went to work on the road crews building the north-west beef roads and Scott would work on a property as a ringer.

Each of us would eventually enter small business – I operated grazing properties, earthmoving contracting and property development and Scott would found the CQX Group of transport companies with his brother Glenn and wife Lynn.

The community spirit that encouraged us to ‘have a go’ in business and later in politics, is exactly the same spirit that our Federal Government is now seeking to generate through this week’s budget.

As is now widely reported in the media, the 2015-16 Budget delivers $3.25 billion in tax cuts for small business and $1.75 billion in accelerated depreciation measures.

It will mean Australian small businesses will have the lowest company tax rate for public and private companies since 1967.

This is combined with $5.5 billion Growing Jobs and Small Business package to help small businesses invest more, grow more and employ more.

Small business is the backbone of our entire farming sector and the budget announced this week must surely be considered among the most generous to agriculture in living memory.

The hard-won drought package announced at the weekend proved the government’s recognition that drought is a natural disaster, just like a flood, fire or cyclone.

That was the challenge put down when I addressed the joint party room two months ago, and the Prime Minister proved himself to understand the need to support rural Australia during the lean years and invest in the long term capacity of the agriculture sector.

Announcements such as the $70 million to enable farmers to claim more favourable accelerated depreciation for water facilities, fodder assets and fencing, will only add to the efforts to further stimulate rural economies and increase on-farm productivity.

So, just as the Prime Minister and Treasurer have spruiked this week, I would like to join the chorus of government politicians calling on small business operators to capitalise on the 2015-16 budget.

If done wisely, this is a major opportunity for our small businesses to better position themselves to capitalise on the rising consumption rates across the globe.