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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 2025


Mr CIOBO (MoncrieffParliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (20:52): I rise to bring the debate on the Tax Laws Amendment (Research and Development) Bill 2013 to a conclusion and to indicate that of course the government will not be supporting Labor's proposed amendments. Once again we find ourselves in quite an interesting situation. Once again the Australian Labor Party has actually come into the chamber and indicated that they will oppose their very own savings measure. It was extraordinary to hear comments made by a variety of Labor members in this debate—including, for example, the member for Moreton and the member for Charlton, who remarked that there was no obvious reason that this needed to take place and that the government was in some way being hypocritical with respect to the legislation. From Labor's perspective, the hypocrisy was that we would adopt a savings initiative by the Labor Party that actually plays a key role of saving some $1.1 billion and helping the process of paying down Labor's debt. If that is hypocrisy: guilty. But I remind Labor members of comments made by the now Treasurer—the then shadow Treasurer—when he remarked here in the chamber on 16 May:

Hence the Coalition may decide not to oppose any of them, doesn't commit to reversing any of them, and reserves the option to implement all of them in government, as short-term emergency measures to deal with the budget crisis Labor has created.

Far from cutting to the bone, we reserve the right to implement all of Labor's cuts, if needed, because it will take time to undo all the damage this government has done.

They are the comments that were made. How extraordinary that in dealing with the mountain of debt Labor has left behind as their legacy, in dealing with the fact that the Labor Party actually saw unemployment increase by 200,000—that is part of Labor's legacy—and in attempting to unwind the excessive spending of the Australian Labor Party, we actually say we are going to stick by some of the savings announcements they make, and it is Labor that actually opposes their very own announced savings measures.

This is the reason the Australian people simply do not trust the Australian Labor Party. It is because Labor will say anything and do anything. What I personally find the most galling aspect of this debate is that Labor has said on numerous occasions how it is the coalition that apparently is the party for billionaires, and how it is the coalition that apparently is the party for big business. But Labor's amendment in relation to this bill actually seeks to reinstate a tax incentive for businesses with a turnover of in excess of $20 billion. That is what Labor's amendment does. Labor's amendment is to provide a gift back to Australia's biggest businesses—businesses with more than $20 billion worth of turnover. If that is not a gift to those businesses, then I do not know what is. I say to the Australian Labor Party: your hypocrisy seems to know no bounds. Do not even pretend to be concerned about Australia's so-called billionaires and about the mining tax and about incentives for big business and incentives for the wealthy when Labor itself comes into the chamber and moves an amendment opposing their very own savings measure and actually attempts to reinstate tax incentives—a tax cut, effectively—for businesses worth over $20 billion. It is extraordinary that that is Labor's approach. But I honestly should not say I am surprised, because I am not. It is entirely consistent with the approach of the now opposition, who say they will oppose everything. They take opposition quite literally, and they will oppose their very own savings measure.

I thank those who contributed to this debate, certainly from the government side—I thank the member for Bradfield for his contribution—but not so much opposition members. The bill does target the research and development tax incentive at small and medium companies, which are more responsive to such incentives than larger enterprises. From 1 July 2013 the R&D tax incentive is limited to companies with an aggregated assessable income of less than $20 billion. Larger companies will instead receive the normal income tax treatment for their R&D expenditures. This measure will produce an estimated revenue gain of $1.1 billion over the forward estimates period, an amount that will be available for other government priorities. And that is predominantly to repay Labor's debt.

The government does not support the amendments that have been moved by the opposition. They are amendments that seek to advantage companies with $20 billion of assessable income—extraordinary, given Labor's narrative over the past week or more. The government does not support the amendments because it is actually now the government who have adopted Labor's savings to try to make a difference to paying down the $430-plus billion of debt that Labor has racked up. For all of those reasons and the fact that this is a better targeted incentive as a consequence of the government adopting it, I commend the bill to the House.

The SPEAKER: The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Fraser has moved, as an amendment, that all words after 'That' be omitted, with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question is that the amendment be agreed to.

Question negatived.

The SPEAKER: The question now is that this bill be read a second time.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.