I would like to commend sponsors and small businesses across the state for participating in this month's Small Business Festival Victoria. The festival provides information to people who are starting or growing a business and gives business operators the opportunity to learn practical new skills and access new ideas to help boost their productivity and competitiveness. Festival events are being held across metropolitan and rural and regional areas of Victoria from 1 to 31 August.
Small business is the engine room of our economy and so important to jobs, families and the prosperity of our community. However, for the hardworking small business people of Victoria the election of the Andrews government last November has been a great disappointment. For example, in just one area, the Andrews Labor government has scored a very regrettable double. Not only did it commit to a very bad antibusiness policy of introducing two new public holidays— Easter Sunday and Bad Friday — but it made the situation even worse by introducing it without consultation or notice. This policy not only hurts businesses but also does serious damage to employees, consumers and the economy at a time of rising unemployment.
Then there was the former Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, who was unfortunately out of his depth, and who had no business experience or plan for Victoria's businesses. His first act as minister was to impose two huge new costs on Victoria's small business community. We have to feel sympathy for him though, as his job was made all the harder by being forced by his Premier to implement a policy that was payback to the Premier's union masters at the same time as it blatantly attacked the businesses the minister was supposed to be looking after. Then after leading a breakaway from the Deputy Premier's faction, the minister became the victim of Labor payback.