Following up on concerns raised with me by small businesses from around Victoria, I submitted a number of questions on notice to the Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade. Although these queries came from a large number of businesses and from all areas of the state, I kept my questions to just 55. The questions related to the impact of the grand final parade and Easter Sunday public holidays on businesses in various Victorian townships. To my amazement the minister responded to just one of the questions, ignoring the rest by stating that the information sought could not be broken down by town or suburb because of the unreasonable impact on the time and resources of his department. Is this minister serious? Does he or does he not represent the interests of small business? The towns identified in my question all have small businesses, and they were negatively impacted upon by the two new public holidays this minister imposed on them. The contempt this minister continues to show towards Victorian small businesses is breathtaking. The strikes against his name rise daily. He is supposed to be the minister in cabinet that stands up for small business, but he continues to demonstrate that he is really there because he will not get in the Premier's way.
As one of his first acts in the job, he imposed two new public holidays — two new big imposts, and bizarrely one of them celebrates the day before an event. He avoided parliamentary scrutiny by imposing the new public holidays through regulation, and he did not conduct the regulatory impact statement process before doing so. He twice asked businesses from all over the state to take time out of their businesses and away from their families to provide feedback to him, but he then told Parliament that he was going to ignore that feedback anyway if it did not agree with his government's view. Then he had the audacity to tell Victorian businesses that if they did not like the new public holidays, they could always choose to close. Those are not the words you would expect of a minister for small business or someone that has even the slightest idea or understanding about businesses — usually Victorian families — and the pressures they are under. Does he not understand that farms are small businesses and that cows do not milk themselves?