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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 1004


Mr CIOBO (Moncrieff) (16:15): I am pleased to rise in particular to speak on the Tax Laws Amendment (2011 Measures No. 9) Bill 2011—and follow the member for Blair, who I see racing from the chamber now! Can I just say, it was entertaining, to say the least, to hear the member for Blair provide as part of his contribution on this debate some attempt to draw a linkage between the so-called vision of this Labor government and what it means for the retirement incomes of Australia's working people.

Madam Deputy Speaker, at first blush, if you only listen to the member for Blair's contribution in isolation, you might think he had a point to make. You might actually think that Labor was concerned, through an increase in the superannuation guarantee from nine to 12 per cent, in providing for retirement of Australians into the future. The problem is, though, that this government's exceptionally poor track record does not match the rhetoric. The problem is that the bill before the House certainly contains beneficial initiatives—and that is why the coalition is supporting this bill—but the simple reality is that the rhetoric we heard from the member for Blair is not matched by action. Whilst it is crucial that there are opportunities for people to find and recover lost superannuation—and, to the extent that schedule 1 of the bill deals with that, that is beneficial; and that is the reason why, once again, the coalition is supporting government policy that is good government policy. Contrary to frequent assertions by Labor members that this is a coalition that only ever says no, the truth is that that not the case, and that this is just another example of the way in which that coalition supports. The reason why we are accused of saying no too frequently is simply that this is a government that bowls up such bad policy on such a continuing and frequent basis. But I am pleased to say, in a spirit of bipartisanship, that on this occasion we can all be united in our love for the Tax Laws Amendment (2011 Measures No. 9) Bill 2011.

But I will deal specifically with the issue of providing for retirement. The member for Blair went to some length in crowing about the Labor Party's track record. I have to say, Madam Deputy Speaker, that when you actually consider the key drivers of the manner in which a person is able to live their retirement in a comfortable way, there are two factors at play. One is of course the accumulation of wealth over time, in a lump sum form, that sits in a superannuation fund. There is no doubt about that: it is a crucial factor. But, just as importantly, the cost of living, and the extent to which that impacts on the lump sum necessary at the commencement of someone's retirement, is equally of value. And it has been this Labor Party that has driven up the cost of living at a level that, frankly, is almost unprecedented.

It has been the policies of this government that have driven up the expenses that Australians have to pay in terms of just their ordinary lifestyles and going about paying for those ordinary things that we all consume, be it groceries, be it utilities, be it medical insurance. On each of these factors this is a government that has betrayed the confidence of Australia's so-called 'working families', as the Labor Party commonly refers to them, but more broadly than that, the community as a whole. We know that the price of utilities, to give but one example, has risen in excess of 10 per cent in the past 12 to 18 months. And it is further forecast, as of 1 July under the carbon tax, to go up an additional 10 per cent. The reason that is crucial—bringing it back to the subject matter of the debate—is that those expenses go to the core of how much someone must provision for their retirement. And the faster the cost of living increases, the more you need to provide for your retirement. That is just an inescapable reality, and the reason why this government is so big on rhetoric but so poor when it comes to follow-through. The rest of this bill is fairly pedestrian. Part 1 of schedule 2 deals with capital gains tax in business restructures and part 2 of schedule 2 deals with capital gains tax demerger relief. Part 3 of schedule 2 deals with restructures in terms of their impact on capital gains tax for Indigenous corporations. Schedule 3 deals with GST financial supply provisions. That perhaps has some impact on a number of my constituents on the Gold Coast. Under schedule 3 the first limb of the financial acquisition threshold will increase from $50,000 to $150,000, effectively increasing the dollar value of input tax credits available for acquisitions related to the making of financial supplies—a good initiative and one that the coalition supports. That is the reason we are supporting this bill.

Schedule 4, which deals with GST treatment of new residential premises, also has an impact in some respects on a number of operations that are undertaken in my electorate of Moncrieff on the Gold Coast. It effectively seeks to ensure that sales or long-term leases of new residential premises by a registered entity are taxable supplies subject to the GST at the time of sale and that sales or long-term leases of residential premises other than new residential premises are input taxed supplies and therefore not subject to the GST at the time or sale under the goods and services tax legislation. Effectively this serves to clarify the intent of the law after the recent Federal Court decision in Commissioner of Taxation v Gloxinia Investments (Trustee), in which it was found that the sale of new residential premises using a developmental lease arrangement should be treated as input taxed—that is, not be subject to the GST. These outcomes are contrary to the general policy intent in relation to the taxation of property under the GST act. That is why the changes are provided for in this legislation.

The member for Blair and others have spoken about the Rhodes Trust being added to the deductible gift recipient list. We know that DGR status, as it is commonly referred to, is an important tool that helps to drive donations in some of these charitable trusts. It is a way to ensure the gift becomes a tax deductible gift. For that reason the application of DGR status to the Rhodes Trust is obviously going to be beneficial, given it is great enabler for many young Australians to travel and study at Oxford University. Schedule 6 deals with a grab bag of various amendments to tax laws.

I am pleased to associate myself with the bill. It is a bill that will clarify a number of matters in relation to taxation. At the outset I addressed very directly some of the spurious assertions that were made by the member for Blair and corrected the record with respect to the fact that there is another side to that coin about providing for Australians' retirement incomes, and that is to control the cost of living.