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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4965


Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (17:24): One of the great things about coming from the part of the world that I do is that it is home to considerable innovation, and the NBN rolling into town is providing an enhancement to that innovation for local businesses. In my movement around the community I see how seriously they take their role in being leaders in employment in our local area. They are particularly interested in making sure that they contribute to the country by paying a fair amount of tax and that they manage their pay-as-you-go responsibilities for their employees in an ethical and powerful way that contributes to the benefit of this country. My local businesses are particularly interested in the advantages that are offered through the most recent budget. There are some very important points I would be interested in hearing about from the minister, particularly small business. In the regions and areas like mine small business is no doubt the greatest employer of local people. It is very important that those businesses continue to grow, because as we grow their capacity in business we grow the number of jobs in our area and, indeed, we continue to grow the taxation for the country and from that the benefits that flow throughout the community. I am very interested in hearing from the minister on those points.

I would also like to ask the minister if he could explain a little more about the tax reform road map and the principles that underpin that. If he could explain it in a way Australians can understand—almost create a metanarrative—so that it is not just about a mechanism or the management of particular types of taxation. It is rather about a vision for Australia, something that creates a holistic framework that accounts for the way whole of the taxation system is structured. I am particularly interested in the minister's response to the challenges that face families as they are looking to manage their jobs in small business and the cost-of-living pressures against their own responsibilities to their families. There has been a significant degree of reform within that framework that I hope the minister might speak to. I am certainly interested in the tax cuts that have been delivered over the first four years to boost incentives for people in my electorate to work hard and received the benefits of that work.

We do hear a lot of conversation in public places about red tape being a major concern. I must say as a small business owner operator—my husband now largely has those responsibilities—the transformation to our business when the GST came in was overwhelming. In fact we had to become tax collectors along with millions of other Australians. I understand red tape, Minister, very well as a result of that experience—in terms of the ongoing management of that and the additional costs to people. Cutting red tape and making changes to make things more efficient for businesses is absolutely vital. I know you have that at the centre of many of your concerns. I would like some comment on that if I may. The thing that seems to be of greatest concern to those in my area is the very significant difference between the plan that is offered by those opposite and the plan and the projects that are in place for superannuation and the tax treatment of low-income earners in particular. In my electorate there are some 23,000 workers who are on $37,000 or less. That is a significant number of the 100,000 people I represent. Spread across the country, it means two-thirds of these workers are women and one-third are men on low incomes. I expect the policy of this side is going to create very different life outcomes not just now but in the future. I would like to hear from the minister about that element of the tax reform that we have been able see in recent times.