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Monday, 29 October 2012
Page: 12208


Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (13:02): I rise to speak on the Superannuation Laws Amendment (Capital Gains Tax Relief and Other Efficiency Measures) Bill 2012 and the Superannuation Auditor Registration Imposition Bill 2012. Along with the rest of the coalition, I am an avid advocate for reducing the burden of government on Australians. During the Howard years the burden of capital gains tax on individuals was reduced significantly—by over 50 per cent. This tax still places pressure on aspirational Territorians. In 2009-10, individuals in the Territory paid over $72 billion in capital gains tax.

The coalition supports reducing the burden of this tax on individuals and companies. The capital gains tax can be a large hurdle to the merging of superannuation funds. It can restrict mergers between funds even when, in the long run, it could be of benefit to members. Typically when funds merge we see either capital gains or losses in the transfer of assets. The merged fund is generally discontinued once the assets are transferred, and at this point any previous revenue and capital losses are forgone. This can be a disadvantage to the fund as capital losses can be used as offsets for present and future capital gains tax liabilities and revenue losses can be used as offsets against current year income.

I support schedule 1 as it will allow for the rollover of both revenue and capital losses. However, this is only relief legislation for superannuation funds during the prevailing economic times. This bill will cover all mergers that occur between 1 October 2011 to 2 July 2017. This relief legislation only brings further uncertainty to businesses and individuals. No-one is sure what will happen after 2 July 2017.

Schedule 2 places a higher burden on my constituents and other aspirational Australians. Self-funded retirees are some of the hardest hit by the Gillard Labor government's carbon tax through increasing grocery, electricity and petrol costs. The residents of Darwin and Palmerston already face huge costs and heightened cost-of-living pressures. By introducing the new registration regime for auditors of self-managed superannuation funds, self-managed retirees will have to deal with more red tape.

This bill will allow the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to become the registration body for the auditors of self-managed superannuation funds. ASIC will be given responsibility under this schedule to determine the eligibility of auditors, the competency standards they must meet and how this would be implemented. As my colleagues have raised before, we have concerns about this bill, which will give auditors very little time to meet new industry standards. It is typical of those opposite: policy on the run with no proper consultation period.

Registration of auditors will begin on 31 January 2013, and all auditors will need to be accredited by 1 July 2013 so that they can continue practising. Is this realistic? How much extra pressure will this place on businesses? It is typical of this government, which, as we know, is no friend of business. These changes will increase the burden on businesses if this bill is passed in its current form. The regulation to this bill states that the maximum fee an auditor can be charged for accreditation is around $1,000. This is a further cost to be borne by business at a time when many businesses are struggling. As the minister has stated, applicants will have to pay a $100 initial registration fee for an online application, a $100 fee to take a competency exam and an annual fee of around $50 for a statement from ASIC, which will be subject to an increase of approximately $14 a year.

This is just for starters. This is an additional cost to businesses, which will have a significant impact. We understand that the fees from this new scheme are expected to collect about $1 million over a five-year period from, say, 2011-12 to 2015-16. At the same time the implementation costs are expected to be around $29.7 million. So there is a $28 million gap there.

So I ask: where is the money coming from? Just last week we saw the Treasurer handing down a MYEFO built on uncertainty and instability. We see this government spending and promising money everywhere, but I ask you: where is this money coming from? In just four months we have seen the Gillard Labor government cut the size of their forecasted surplus by a third. Will we ever see a surplus from Labor? We know that Labor has a terrible track record. Just ask my colleague the member for Longman, who has never seen a Labor surplus in his lifetime. This Labor government also implemented a mining tax—a mining tax that has raised absolutely nothing in its first three months of existence. Maybe it never will. Now, I do not know about you, Deputy Speaker Rishworth, but I have never heard of a tax that does not raise money. But, in typical Labor fashion, the mining tax is just another example of economic mismanagement at its worst. We see them spending recklessly money that they just do not have.

Net interest repayments for this financial year are currently at around $20 million per day. Yes, $20 million per day, and that only covers the costed programs. We know that the Gillard Labor government has a $120 billion black hole of unfunded promises—$10.5 billion a year for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, once fully operational from 2018-19; $6.5 billion a year for the Gonski review; and $1.4 billion for an increased refugee intake to 20,000 over the forward estimates. With so many unfunded promises, how can they afford to implement the auditor registration regime as well? This is not the government's money they are spending, but that of aspirational Australians.

As a timely reminder to those opposite, I wish to quote the great Margaret Thatcher, an incredible woman who understood how important it was to reduce the burden government placed on the lives of individuals and businesses. Baroness Thatcher once said, 'There is no such thing as public money; there is only taxpayers' money.' I could not have said it better myself. Those opposite are spending taxpayers' money at unprecedented levels. You may be surprised to know that the spending of the Gillard Labor government is $90 billion more a year than the spending in the last year of the Howard government. Governments must live within their means. The government is putting everything on a giant credit card, and we all know Labor cannot be trusted with credit cards.

If the Treasurer wants advice on how to balance budgets, he needs to look no further than my electorate. Families in Darwin and Palmerston are masters of budget balancing. They have to be. The people of Solomon understand what it means to balance a budget. Struggling to manage a budget is part of their everyday lives—balancing school fees, mortgage repayments, grocery bills, electricity bills, rates and phone bills. These costs are only further compounded by the Gillard Labor government's carbon tax on everything. In the 2011-12 financial year Darwin experienced the largest housing price increases in the country, averaging 12.3 per cent. Darwin and Palmerston have the third highest median house prices in Australia, after Sydney and Melbourne, and the highest median weekly rent costs for a three-bedroom home, $542 a week, compared to the next closet city, Canberra, with a median price of $448 per week. This is absolutely outrageous. But this is indicative of a Territory Labor government, recently voted out after failing Territorians for 11 years. Territorians had had enough and voted them out. If the people of Darwin and Palmerston are so capable at managing a budget, why isn't the Treasurer?

I go back to the Superannuation Laws Amendment (Capital Gains Tax Relief and Other Efficiency Measures) Bill 2012. We are deeply concerned that this bill will just increase the red tape burden on those Australians who wish to manage their own superannuation. Under Labor, the only certainty for Australians is more taxes, more debt and more pain. It is quite obvious that the Gillard Labor government have completely lost their way, and their only answer is to try and reignite a class war. As I have said many times in this place, small business is the backbone of the Northern Territory, and this government is punishing those people for nothing more than their own political gain, punishing these individuals for being aspirational and daring to dream.

In MYEFO last week we saw the Treasurer confirm that $390 million would be spent by the ATO to crack down on small businesses. Small businesses are being forced to pay as the Gillard Labor government look to every possible avenue to fund their spending addiction. We know that Labor is no friend of small business. Labor is no friend of the aspirational Australian.

I have some surprising statistics for you. Since Labor came to office in 2007, we have seen 18,089 new regulations introduced—that is 11 regulations a day—and only 86 have been repealed. This is a far cry from the election promise made in 2007 of 'one in, one out', where new regulations would only be brought in if they were matched by one that was repealed. So someone cannot count, because from my accounting there are about 18,000 extra regulations that need to be repealed. It is no wonder red tape is strangling individuals and business. The Gillard Labor government is built around policy on the run. There is a complete lack of understanding and appreciation for small business.

I ask you, Deputy Speaker, how many of the cabinet ministers have run a business? I suspect the number is very low, if any at all. This is in strong contrast to the coalition. We understand small business, we are the party of small business and we know that small business is the engine room of economic growth in Australia. We have a plan. Under an Abbott-led government the coalition will cut $1 billion worth of red tape. The coalition has never supported unnecessary red tape. The coalition does not support unnecessary red tape. Along with my colleagues I support Australians choosing whether or not they save for their own retirement. We will be putting forward an amendment to this bill, as we are opposed to the red tape inherent in the new audit regime for self-managed super funds.