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Monday, 18 March 2013
Page: 2488


Mr VAN MANEN (Forde) (12:51): I thank the member for Kingston for her contribution, trying to sing the praises of this government's tax policy. Let me enlighten her on a couple of facts. Firstly, in relation to the tax-free threshold, the low-income tax offset that we had prior to this meant that there was an effective tax-free threshold of $16,000. So there has only really been a small increase to $18,000, and the government also increased the base tax rate from 30 per cent to 34 per cent for those earning more than $18,000. So it is the usual pea and thimble trick of this government; it just highlights where this government really is in terms of tax policy.

I would like to thank the member for Lyne for his motion, the intention of which is well made. However, given that he has been in a position for the past 2½ years of holding the reins of power, so to speak, I find it quietly strange that he has not used the opportunity in the past 2½ years to advance the points that he sets out in his motion. I think it is quite hypocritical that, not having used that opportunity, he now puts this motion before the House. That is especially the case if we have a look at his voting record on some of the key taxes we have seen over the past 2½ years. He supported both the mining tax and the carbon tax. I wonder why is he putting this motion before the House when his track record in voting for new or increased taxes is pretty much unblemished.

At the end of the day, Australians need real action to get things done. In the past five years we have seen a great deal of focus on ways to achieve tax reform. One of the first acts of the Rudd government following its election in 2007 was the so-called root and branch review of the Australian taxation system, the Henry review. The review cost in excess of $10 million, received over 1,500 submissions, consisted of a panel of five experts and produced more than 1,300 pages. In the end, it contained 138 recommendations, of which the government claims to have progressed less than a handful. In the fallout from the 2010 election, the government made a major tax reform promise to the Independents. It promised to hold a summit. Imagine that—this government holding a summit! Of course, at this stage we had previously ruled out a carbon tax and the fourth iteration of the mining tax. The million-dollar tax forum subsequently held in October last year led to a major new tax initiative, the Business Tax Working Group. This new group was charged with doing the government's work to find savings to pay for a company tax cut. Reviews, forums, summits, working groups: it is all talk and no action—other than introducing new or increased taxes. In the past five years, we have seen 27 of those coming from the Labor government, the most notable being the carbon tax and the mining tax, with one, the mining tax, mentioned in the Henry tax review.

The motion goes on to talk about having the government release 'a 10-year road map for comprehensive tax reform as a stand-alone budget paper'. We cannot go six months without this government's budget blowing up. In the past nine months, we have seen countless examples of a government without a stable and consistent approach to tax, and we have seen poor judgement time and again on the implementation of tax legislation. At the end of the day, there is no doubt that Australia needs a much higher standard of planning to underpin reform in our tax system.

We as the coalition can confirm that we will not support this motion. As we have seen more than enough, this government is not up to the task. So the solution is not to call on the government to lift its game; the solution is a change in government.

Debate interrupted.