Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, as you know many small businesses are really struggling right now. In the same way that the cost of living has impacted on households, it's impacting on costs of living for small businesses. It's likely only to deepen. There's a much bigger incentive than ever for small businesses to either undertake an energy efficiency upgrade or install small scale renewables to bring down their power costs. Has your Government looked at options to support small businesses to install renewables and storage through, for example, grants or low interest loans and energy-efficiency upgrades like we did when we were in Government between 2010 and 2014?
Ms OGILVIE - It's a great question. Those initiatives would sit within the Energy minister's portfolio. I have had a conversation with him around the cost of living issue. It's clear and important to acknowledge that when the input costs of business rise they cause difficulties. It either shrinks margins or means you have to sell more to keep up. I have opened that conversation and am hopeful we will be able to have some productive discussions around what that looks like in a small business setting. I know there is a big conversation happening in a residential setting but I want to do that in a small business setting as well.
Ms O'CONNOR - So you would understand how it could deliver long-term savings to small business.
Ms OGILVIE - I am open to all good ideas. It depends on the nature of the business. Cafes, for example, have a different cost base than a legal firm, so certainly there is complexity to it.
There is also the NILS program, a micro-business loan scheme to help small and micro-businesses get up and running and that loan can help provide a stepping stone to becoming a more established business, so there is a bit of support there.
In relation to small businesses more generally, emerging from the pandemic I think the sector is looking very strong. We are keeping a very close eye on the pressures on particular segments and businesses and there is further ongoing assistance available, particularly around what the future looks like with digitisation and those other elements. Again that is a cost to business issue to defray some of that and help them move forward. I realise you asked specifically about energy but it was important to talk a bit about all of the inputs.