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Tuesday, 2 December 2003
Page: 23430

Mr PEARCE (2:58 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Small Business and Tourism. Would the minister advise the House of what initiatives the government has introduced to help Australia's 1.1 million small businesses? Is the minister aware of any initiatives that will adversely affect small businesses?

Mr HOCKEY (Minister for Small Business and Tourism) —I thank the member for Aston for his question and recognise that he fights for every single one of the 1.1 million small businesses in Australia—every single one! More than half have been created since the Howard government came to office in 1996, and many of them in his electorate. One reason why we have so many small businesses doing well is that we believe in lowering tax. We believe in it, because we have abolished provisional tax; we have abolished wholesale sales tax; we have abolished stamp duty on the transfer of shares; we reduced income tax; and we halved capital gains tax—all with the net effect that it has delivered real benefits to Australia's small businesses. Importantly, we should note that the Labor Party voted against all those initiatives. We live in hope, now that the member for Hotham and the member for Brand are on the backbench. In fact, how cruel it is that it is his first day on the backbench and the member for Hotham is sat next to the member for Lowe. How cruel is that! You will do anything for a vote.

The 23,000 Tasmanian small businesses are now being asked by the Tasmanian Labor government to backdate payroll tax, and 23,000 Tasmanian small businesses are now saying, `Why? Why is the Labor Party so determined to increase taxes?' We were hoping that the member for Werriwa as shadow Treasurer would oppose the Labor Party at a state level on issues such as rising land tax. We had hoped that he would oppose higher stamp duties. We had hoped that as shadow Treasurer the member for Werriwa would have opposed higher payroll tax. Unfortunately, he has form. If people are shocked at the election of the member for Werriwa, wait until they see his policies. When it comes to tax, these are the words of the member for Werriwa:

It is not too late ... to use taxation policy as a disincentive for growth in Western Sydney. Other options include the extension of the Federal capital gains tax to the family home and the introduction of a local ... betterment tax.

And it goes further. He says:

The revenue raised from a growth levy could be used to fund infrastructure.

The member for Werriwa has shown that he supports higher taxation. Over the last few months he has talked about increasing capital gains tax and abolishing negative gearing. On the record he has previously said he wants a local betterment tax. The Labor Party, true to form, do not like small business. They want higher taxes and they think small business is an easy target.