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Wednesday, 21 June 2017
Page: 7260


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaMinister for Small Business) (15:24): The shadow Treasurer talked about the Fair Work Commission established on 1 July 2009 under Labor, the commissioners appointed by Labor and the process that has led to the penalty rates decision that he now complains about, which was initiated by Labor. He talked about energy costs and yet he belongs to a party that wants to reintroduce a carbon tax, which will only drive power prices up. The shadow Treasurer is from the same party that demonises coal and yet is owned and absolutely beholden to the Greens.

Fairness is what today's matter of public importance debate is about. Do you know what is fair? That any Australian who needs it can now have access to the fully funded National Disability Insurance Scheme. Do you know what is fair? That country schoolkids in classrooms in my electorate and right across Australia, and certainly in regional Australia, get the needs based funding that they deserve. Do you know what is fair? Opening farmers and consumers throughout rural and regional Australia to jobs and opportunities through what Parkes Shire Council Mayor Ken Keith calls the iconic Inland Rail. There is $8.4 billion allocated in the budget going through your fine electorate of Parkes, Mr Deputy Speaker Coulton. Do you know what is fair? Helping small business have a go to create jobs and opportunities for Australians and help grow our economy.

At the heart of the budget delivered by this government on 9 May was a very central theme—fairness. It is the fairness in delivering a budget that puts Australia back on track to balance so that our children and our children's children do not shoulder an unaffordable burden in the future. Yet Labor, in their unfair and short-sighted politicking, simply do not get it. They do not want to get it. They do not understand. This MPI debate brought on by the member for McMahon simply proves it.

This MPI talks about unfairness in 10 days time, but let me tell you about those who will actually pay more tax in 10 days time. Multinationals will pay more tax in 10 days time. They are the companies about which those opposite dithered and did nothing. If multinationals earn tax in Australia, thanks to the Liberals and the Nationals they will pay tax in Australia. As we moved to crack down on multinational tax avoidance, those opposite did the only thing that they know how to do—they stood in the way. There was such negativity and obstruction. They issued press releases. They pointed the finger. They shirked the blame. It is so typical of Labor. They voted against our laws that will make multinationals pay tax.

Another group will pay their fair share come 1 July too—major banks. It is another sorry story about the soapbox and the shadow cabinet. Whilst those opposite stand on their soapbox and lecture about the banks, we are asking them to pay their fair share. We are asking that they help restore our budget and make the banks accountable. The Treasurer announced a new banking executive accountability regime that will ensure that banks and their executives are held accountable when they fail to meet expectations.

The government will legislate for a one-stop shop to deal with all financial disputes, including superannuation disputes, substantially improving outcomes for individuals and businesses who have disputes with their banks or other financial institutions. That is only fair. In 10 days time Australia's small businesses will get the fairness and support that they deserve too. We will see on 1 July a simpler business activity statement for businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million, meaning small business owners can spend less time on paperwork and more time with family and friends. What could be better than that? From 1 July small businesses can opt into single-touch payroll, making it simpler to pay and report salary or wages, pay-as-you-go withholding and superannuation information.

July 1 is going to be a very good day. The $100 million Advanced Manufacturing Fund will start, which backs innovation, research, cooperatives and excellence in our universities and will help industry adjust to the wind-down of car manufacturing. From 1 July small businesses can keep using the $20,000 instant asset write-off program to purchase the new equipment they need. Do you know why? Because we extended it in the budget. When we back small businesses, jobs and wages grow. When we cut small business tax, small business can reinvest in itself and put on another casual. This is often someone's first job or an opportunity, indeed, for an older Australian. When we extended the instant asset write-off to more small businesses than ever before, we helped small business grow, pursue new ideas and create jobs. And what could be more important than that, Deputy Speaker? We back small business because it is fair to level the playing field. We back small business because it is fair that our best and our brightest should have a go. They are the risk-takers—small businesses are the risk-takers. They are in all our electorates—I know the member for Whitlam has his back turned and he is talking away as though he does not care, but they are in his electorate too.

But fairness goes further than just that. Fairness is returning the budget to balance. Fairness understands that when those opposite came to government—following the fine and responsible economic leadership of John Howard and the Liberals and Nationals—they squibbed it. They did. They squibbed the opportunity to reduce the pressure for today's children. It is unfair that, having inherited surpluses, Labor went about accumulating deficit upon deficit upon deficit—and I could say it six times, Deputy Speaker; it is sad but it is true—with total deficits of just under $240 billion in six years—that is, 16.9 per cent of gross domestic product. After inheriting Labor's baked-in spending and a structural deficit, the Liberals and Nationals government deficits have been $70 billion, or around 30 per cent, less. It was unfair that Labor threw away our surpluses on school halls and roofing insulation without the proper precautions and without the business case—so unfair. It was unfair that cheques were sent overseas, and to people who had actually passed away, causing even more grief to Australian families—all when Labor should have been building our economy. They had the perfect opportunity to do so. They squibbed it, and they wasted it. But we understand the fairness of getting the budget back to balance—because that is what Liberals and Nationals do. That is what we do. There is a side which does not squib it—it is this side, it is the Liberals and it is the Nationals. And we have a sensible and fair plan to get there, just like colleagues in the New South Wales Liberals and Nationals; like Gladys Berejiklian, the Premier, and her deputy, John Barilaro, whose budget yesterday delivered the services and the infrastructure that communities deserve, particularly country communities, whilst making responsible and fair decisions for the future.

Fairness is at the heart of the federal plan, too, while those opposite obstruct the very fairness of budget balance. They do it each and every day. As we approach savings measures which are fair and which mean those Australians who need support actually get it, those opposite stand in the way. They stand opposed. They oppose asking Australians to help us fully fund the NDIS through a modest increase in the Medicare levy—despite the shadow cabinet knowing in their hearts that it is a good idea. They play politics. In the modern Labor Party, politics trumps people at every hurdle. Even former Labor luminaries call out Labor's short-sightedness. They do. On the question of the fairness our budget delivers for Australians, former Labor minister Craig Emerson was clear when he said about Labor:

It should support the full increase in the Medicare levy, unconditionally back the bank levy and pass the school funding legislation …

Yet unfortunately, populism and politics stand in the way. Those opposite do not like what their former Labor frontbenchers say. Those opposite just stand in the way, for a political pointscoring exercise. Labor opposes removing payments to people which compensate them for a carbon tax which no longer exists. Let me tell you, Deputy Speaker, if they ever get hold of the Treasury benches again, that tax will be implemented. It will be reintroduced. It will push power prices up.

We know what happens when you get ideology standing the way of policy. We have seen how the Labor Premier, Jay Weatherill, is going in South Australia—small businesses, farmers and families have no guarantee that, when they flick the switch, the power is going to come on. Labor opposes getting the best deal possible for our students, delivering David Gonski's dream and funding schools according to their needs—just like Labor opposes the fairness of fully funding the NDIS. This comes as former leaders from the Australian Education Union want Labor to support it. In a letter to the PM and the opposition leader, a former president of the Australian Education Union, Dianne Foggo, said: 'It is on the principle of needs-based funding into the future that the Turnbull government's bills must be supported.' And Labor stands opposed. I cannot understand it. She continued: 'One of my proudest and most humbling honours has been to be made a life member of the AEU and to be a former federal president.' Labor should listen to her. They should support our sensible policies. They should get on track with the rest of the nation.