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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13232


Mr BROAD (Mallee) (12:59): I rise to speak on the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2015 Measures No. 5) Bill 2015. It is fitting that I have just listened to the shadow Assistant Treasurer lay out for the Australian people the Labor Party's view on how to fix the economy. I think it can be summed up in three words: tax, tax and more tax. They talk about hardworking Australians. Hardworking Australians are people who pay tax. I do not think our challenge is to raise more taxes; our challenge is to spend more responsibly. That is what we are trying to do, particularly, in this bill.

The macro figures are very startling: we are getting in $404 billion of revenue and we are spending $434 billion every year. This means that we are living beyond our means. Labor's answer is to go ahead and take more money out of the pockets of Australians. Our answer is to try to find ways of creating employment, creating a stimulus and ensuring that we can live and spend more wisely. It is startling that, out of the federal budget, $154 billion—over one-third of our total expenditure—is being spent through social services in the welfare budget. The challenge for us is that, if we can take one person who is a welfare recipient and move them across to being no longer a welfare recipient but, in fact, a working person who can contribute to tax revenue, then that is one step towards repairing the budget.

We heard the shadow Assistant Treasurer very clearly laying out the economic ideals of the Labor Party, but I do wonder whether those economic ideals are in line with where the Labor Party once started. Essentially, if the platform that they are taking to the next election is: 'We are going to take more money out of Australian's pockets because we do not think they can spend it very well, and we think the government can spend it better,' then they are a long way from what their ideals were. Their ideals started in 1891 at Barcaldine under the Tree of Knowledge with the Australian shearer's strike—and if anyone realises how hard work is, then they should try shearing. Where are the shearers from the Australian Labor Party? I do not see any. I do not see one shearer in the Australian Labor Party. In fact, what I would like to see is people getting back to their roots and, perhaps, over the summer break, getting out there and visiting a sheep station and seeing where their party started from because, if they went back and did that, then they would remember very clearly that asking people to pay more tax is not in line with what originally took place under that Tree of Knowledge in 1891-92. I guess that is the challenge for the Labor Party while they think about the future.

It is no wonder that the great Tree of Knowledge got poisoned by glyphosate, Roundup, in 2006. If the only thing they are coming up with as the way to repair Australia's economic challenge is to take more money out of Australian's pockets, then they are not thinking clearly about where they started from. In 2006 an arborist declared that the Tree of Knowledge was dead, and I think that is a real example of what we are seeing here. The Labor Party need to do some hard policy work in opposition so they can then realise why they are in opposition. The saplings are trying to grow. Indeed, on 19 April 2011, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard planted a sapling that was grown out of that Tree of Knowledge before someone poisoned it. If the only answer they are going to put forward in their election policy is tax, tax and more tax, then I hope someone is protecting that little sapling because I dare say someone will go and put some Roundup on that one as well.

In this bill there are a couple of things that I do not quite agree with, and I think it is very important that a federal MP represents their constituents and their electorate. I do not think schedule 1, which is modernising work related car expense, is in line with fairness. I think it is something that probably should have been looked at and it is something that I have certainly advocated to the minister about. When you are claiming a vehicle's expenses, you can claim 55 cents a kilometre travelled, 66 cents a kilometre travelled and 75 cents a kilometre travelled, depending on the size of the vehicle. If you are a rural based business, you can claim up to 5,000 kilometres under the system. This change means that the average is going to be 66 cents per kilometre instead of 75 cents per kilometre. That means a rural based business will miss out on about $500 worth of tax deduction. I am saying this and defending this for the people who live in the Mallee because the roads are not that great in the mallee. Certainly we are trying to fund them and improve them, but rural based people usually have to drive bigger cars out of necessity, so this is $500 of tax deduction that they will miss out on in moving this bill through.

It needs to be said, though, that we have stood very firmly behind our small businesses. One of the great things that came out of the last budget was the $20,000 instant tax write-off for small businesses. This has been very popular in my patch. It has been taken up by producers, it has been taken up by small-business people, it has been taken up by manufacturers and it has been taken up by people who are going to employ people. That is ultimately in line with what our challenge should be, which is to get people off welfare and to get them to be a tax contributor by becoming gainfully employed. The other thing that has been very welcome in the business packages has been the accelerated depreciation write-off for fodder and for irrigation infrastructure. As we have developed free trade agreements, and we are seeing the huge benefits of that in the electorate of Mallee, particularly in the irrigation community, being able to write off irrigated infrastructure quickly over three years has been very beneficial.

As a good local member I am bringing forward my one concern about this bill, but I am saying that we at least do have a plan, and I think the plan for getting Australia back on track is to move people from being welfare recipients—with $154 billion, over one-third of our budget, being spent in that area—and get them off welfare and contributing to the Australian economy by having a job. Of course, if you have a job, that is not only good for our country, it is good for you. That you can get up every day and do something purposeful for your life is certainly something that gives you a sense of self-worth and a sense of purpose.

My fear for the Australian Labor Party—and, really, my fear has to go out to the sapling that Julia Gillard planted on 19 April 2011, that sapling that is the last survivor of the Tree of Knowledge—is that, unless they come up with a better policy than tax, tax and more tax to take to the election, someone might poison that sapling with glyphosate, just like the Tree of Knowledge was poisoned in 2006.