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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4966

Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (17:29): I thank the member for Robertson for her questions and note the wide-ranging nature of her contribution. I will try and address as many of the elements of what she has raised there as I can. Obviously, we are very proud of the record that we have when it comes to tax reform. It is often said erroneously that we have not picked up the cudgels when it comes to the Henry reforms, but it is worth noting that more than 40 of the measures proposed by the Henry review have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.

Of course, when it comes to tax, we think it is important to ensure that, in particular, those large and profitable multinationals that are not paying their fair share of tax are required to pay their fair share. That is why I spoke earlier about the corporate tax integrity package. But equally we think it is important to lower the tax burden on small business. That is why we have put in place the instant asset write-off, which has been a significant development for small businesses. In fact, I see the member for Corangamite here in the chamber. I had the opportunity to visit his electorate with him and to talk to a cafe owner at a beautiful spot down at—

Mr Cheeseman: Frontbeach.

Mr BRADBURY: Frontbeach. It was a fantastic—

An honourable member: What was it called?

Mr BRADBURY: These are the big questions coming from those opposite! I am glad you have a full hour for this, because when you get down to those sorts of questions as your last line of defence it shows that there is not much of a critique of the budget.

When it comes to small business, we have put in place the instant asset write-off. Those opposite voted against it. It should be a source of shame to them that they voted against a tax break for small business. They say they are the party for small business, but, as the member for Robertson pointed out, they were the party that introduced the GST, with all of the administrative burden that that slugged small business with. In fact, I still get all the letters from small businesses struggling to handle all of the extra red tape and regulation that they were strangled with. I thought they were going to 'unchain people's hearts', but instead they ended up chaining them to a desk to do the paperwork involved in their business activity statements.

Anyway, the No. 1 concern that I hear from small business is actually concern about paperwork, and at the top of that list is the business activity statement. In putting in place the instant asset write-off, we have eliminated the need for some paperwork, because, for those assets below the value of $6½ thousand, there is no need to keep depreciation schedules. You can write it off in the first year. Of course, that delivers a cash flow benefit to the business, but it also eliminates red tape. That is something this government has been working towards.

You might ask the question: why on earth would an opposition that say that they support small business want to come into office and rip away a tax concession for small business and in the process load them up with more red tape and more paperwork? It is a good question, and I have not heard a decent answer to it. Of course, those opposite have been parading themselves around as the party of lower taxes. The tax-to-GDP ratio is 21.5 per cent of GDP at the moment; it was 23.7 per cent of GDP when they left office, when the member for Higgins was working for the Treasurer. Indeed, I should make the point about those corporate tax loopholes that many of them were put in place with the consolidation regime and the thin capitalisation regime that were put in place by her boss when he was around. We are now left to clean it up and to try and tidy these arrangements up to make sure that these companies are paying their fair share.

But the opposition came into the parliament and they voted against the tax break for small business. They now say they are going to repeal it. At the same time they say, 'We're for lower taxes,' but they have a proposal for a monster tax for business: a paid parental leave tax. I know that both members opposite have been very quiet on this issue, because down in their heart of hearts they do not agree with this. They know it is an unfair impost on employers, and, if they look into their iPads and look down into their books to avoid making eye contact because of the shame that they are presently feeling about this horrendous policy—

An honourable member interjecting—

Mr BRADBURY: At least the member for Mitchell—he does not speak up much, but, when he does, he crystallises the thought of many on the back bench on that side. So much for the modest members, so modest that they have been missing in action on this vital policy debate, missing in action when it comes to this $20 billion tax that business will be— (Time expired)