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Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Page: 1601

Taxation


Senator DASTYARI (New South Wales) (14:00): My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. I refer to the minister's interview on Sky yesterday—the most excruciating since Senator Brandis compared metadata to an envelope. Why did the minister refuse to back in the Treasurer's comments on excesses in negative gearing, not once, not twice but eight times?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Special Minister of State) (14:00): I am of course a strong supporter of the Treasurer. It is a great privilege to be representing the Treasurer in this chamber on behalf of the Turnbull government. The Treasurer and I, and indeed all of my colleagues in the Turnbull government, are working very hard every day to strengthen growth, create more jobs and give the Australian people the best possible opportunity to get ahead. Of course we are making the necessary decisions to put our budget on a sustainable foundation for the future. I understand that Senator Dastyari likes to play politics—I know he is a bit juvenile—but these are serious issues and the government is working in an orderly, methodical fashion to make sure that our tax system is the most growth friendly it can be. It is a great privilege for me to be part of that process.


Senator DASTYARI (New South Wales) (14:01): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. When did the finance minister get shut out of the government's tax policy process—or, Minister, is there just no process at all?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Special Minister of State) (14:01): That is another juvenile question from those opposite, so clearly they do not have any other questions left. As I said very clearly yesterday, of course I am a part of the process where the government considers options to strengthen growth, create more jobs and ensure that everyone across Australia has the best possible opportunity to get ahead, and of course I am also part of the process where we are considering how our tax system can be made even more growth friendly. We got rid of Labor's disastrous carbon tax, which cost jobs and investment, we got rid of Labor's disastrous mining tax, which cost jobs and investment, and we reduced taxes for small business in last year's budget, and of course I am part of the process but it is also true to say that tax policy of course is entirely a matter for the Treasurer.


Senator DASTYARI (New South Wales) (14:02): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Has the minister been shut out of the tax policy process, because on his watch spending has blown out and the government is now budgeting for more than half a trillion dollars in gross debt by 2018-19. Minister, how does it feel to be Australia's worst finance minister?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Special Minister of State) (14:03): The answer to the first question is no. This government, since its election in September 2013, has worked very hard on getting under control the unsustainable and unfunded spending growth trajectory that Labor and the worst finance minister in Australia's history, Senator Wong, left behind. In the period of the Abbott government we made significant progress in getting expenditure under control, and the Turnbull government is working to further build on that progress to ensure Australia is on the strongest possible economic and fiscal foundation for the future, to ensure that Australia is as resilient as possible and in the strongest possible position to take advantage of the opportunities coming our way. What Labor has never understood and what Senator Wong clearly has not understood is that just before they were about to lose government they sought in a very deceptive way to lock in expenditure increases across a whole range of areas in government, to lock in in legislation permanent and structural increases in expenditure. (Time expired)