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Wednesday, 3 September 2014
Page: 6353

Budget


Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (14:28): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Small Business, Senator Cormann. I refer to the government's deal with the Palmer United Party to cut small business tax concessions. Can the minister confirm that the government has legislated a $5 billion hike for small businesses over the next four years?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:29): What I can confirm for Senator Sterle is that yesterday we implemented the policy we took to the last election. On this side of the chamber we understand that the budget is not a magic pudding. The Labor Party waltzed around the countryside for six years and they made promises left, right and centre, unfunded. We said to the Australian people very openly and transparently in the lead-up to the last election that we would scrap the mining tax, because it is a bad tax for the economy. It has hurt Australia; it has particularly hurt our home state of Western Australia, Senator Sterle. It has cost jobs. We said we would get rid of the mining tax and we also said we would get rid of all of the unfunded promises that Labor recklessly and irresponsibly attached to that tax. Yesterday, the Senate voted to support our election commitment to scrap the mining tax. Thank you very much to the senators, particularly in the Palmer United Party—

Senator Moore: Mr President, I rise on a point of order to do with relevance. The question was quite direct; it was about small business tax concessions, and we have not got to that yet.

The PRESIDENT: The minister has 59 seconds left to answer the question. I refer the minister to the question.

Senator CORMANN: The reason the previous government made a complete mess of the budget is that they kept walking the countryside making promises left, right and centre without showing how it was going to be paid for, including to small business. The most cruel thing you can do is make a promise that costs money and imposes cost burdens on the budget, without actually showing how you are going to pay for it. We had this tax that was supposed to raise $4 billion in year one. Guess what? It raised 95 per cent less than that, and the five per cent it raised is being refunded—

Senator Moore: Mr President, I rise on a point of order, again on direct relevance. The question was on small business tax concessions.

The PRESIDENT: Minister, I remind you of the question. You have 26 seconds.

Senator CORMANN: This government was so incompetent they spent all the money they thought would be raised by the mining tax before it had raised a zack. Then it did not raise any money. The mining tax is like the pub without beer—

Senator Moore: Again, I raise a point of order on relevance. Regarding the small business tax concessions, a simple yes or no may be the answer.

The PRESIDENT: The question asked for the minister to 'confirm'—and I am aware of the content of the question. The minister does not have to answer yes or no. The minister can answer in any way he likes, as long as he remains relevant.

Senator CORMANN: Unlike the Labor Party, before the last election we were honest with the Australian people. We said that we would scrap the unfunded promises that Labor attached to their failed tax. We have done so, including in relation to the measure that Senator Sterle just referenced. (Time expired)











Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (14:32): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I will try my luck again. Can the minister confirm that the reduction of the instant asset write-off will deliver a $3.2 billion hit to small business? Knock yourself out, Senator!


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:32): What I can confirm is that small business will be the winner from a stronger mining industry and a stronger economy. Small business will have more opportunities to employ people. Small business will be the winner from our decision to delay further increases in compulsory superannuation. Small business will be able to employ more people, because we have reduced the cost burden that Labor in government imposed on small business. And do you know what? Small business will be the winner—

Senator Wong: I rise on a point of order to do with relevance. Perhaps to assist the minister I could seek leave to table an extract from the EM that shows a $3.2 billion saving on the back of small business, if he is unable to answer this question—

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Wong. A part of your point of order was totally out of order. Senator Cormann, I remind you of the question. You have 29 seconds remaining.

Senator CORMANN: Senator Sterle was trying to suggest that we were doing things that were not good for small business. The best thing we can do for small business is ensure that we build a stronger, more prosperous economy. A strong mining industry will create opportunities for small business. You might not understand this, but on this side of the chamber and on the cross bench we do understand this. As far as the various unfunded promises that you attached to the mining tax are concerned, we have always said that we will get rid of them, and we have done so. (Time expired)

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left and on my right. Senator Back and Senator Lines.






Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (14:34): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I refer to the Prime Minister's promise on 15 August last year:

I am absolutely determined not to increase the overall tax burden on anyone.

Why has the Prime Minister broken his promise to small business? I will lend you a white hanky if you just want to wave that!


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:35): Let me make the point right up front that under the coalition, after our budget, the tax burden in Australia is lower than it would have been under the Labor Party. We got rid of the carbon tax, we got rid of the mining tax, and later this year we will be initiating a company tax cut. Let's start with that.

Secondly, in relation to the unfunded promises that Labor attached to their failed mining tax, including in relation to small business, we said transparently before the last election that we would get rid of them. We transparently said before the last election that the various promises Labor attached to their failed mining tax were not affordable at the moment. There are a lot of meritorious causes that you can pursue when you have your budget under control. But you left a debt and deficit disaster behind. One of the worst finance ministers in the history of Australia presided over a $107 billion blowout in the budget deficit in three short years. You left behind $191 billion in cumulative deficits in your first five budgets— (Time expired)