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Thursday, 13 May 2010
Page: 3637

Mr BRIGGS (11:55 AM) —I will rise for a short time to facilitate my colleague, the shadow spokesperson on this issue, who is moving from a speech she is just completing in the House of Representatives to the Main Committee. I will help her in that transit by offering a few thoughts on the Tax Laws Amendment (2010 GST Administration Measures No. 2) Bill 2010.

The member for Blair was very well versed on the subject. I will give him credit for his knowledge of tax rulings and the interpretation of the tax act. It is probably something he has far too much knowledge of. I congratulate him on his contribution on the bill. Like the member for Blair, small business is also hugely important in my electorate. I do not have substantial businesses either, so ensuring that small business is able to operate effectively is very important. My business base is made up of about 7,500 small businesses. We recently surveyed them, in fact, and one of the consistent issues that came through was their difficulty with the complicated tax system and the GST. While the GST was a very worthwhile initiative of the former Howard government—and I now welcome the support of it from those on the other side—it can always be improved to make it easier for small business to make sure that they can get on with the job of their business, whether it be a hairdressing salon, a butcher shop or a winery. They need to keep their businesses open and operating without too much complication in relation to meeting their tax obligations.

It is very important that we look at these pieces of tax legislation to ensure that they are as simple as they can possibly be, but obviously ensuring that the tax act and the tax obligations of people are being fulfilled. No-one likes paying tax. It is the view on our side of the chamber that we should be paying the lowest tax we possibly can. We do not support great, big new taxes—not on small business in this case but also on other industries. We think that will damage the economy and will damage the very industry which is driving so much of our economic activity in our country. We on our side of the House are always conscious of trying to reduce the tax burden on Australian business. It is a real balance to ensure that the tax act is being properly implemented and at the same time allowing people to get on and run their business.

The member for Blair talked in great detail about the changes contained in this bill—in far better detail than I could—and I agree with much of what he had to say. Occasionally the member for Blair and I do not agree on issues relating to tax, and certainly in recent days I think we probably have a vastly different view on some of the changes to our tax system that are being planned. Clearly the opposition is supportive of this bill, but I will not take too much of the shadow minister’s gunpowder in giving our view. With those few remarks I will conclude.