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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 23

Economy


Senator HUME (Victoria) (14:05): My question is for the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. Can the minister provide an update on the government's strategies to strengthen economic growth and create more jobs?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:06): I thank Senator Hume, the Chair of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee, for that question. I am pleased to advise Senator Hume and the Senate that the government's commitment is to ensure that we do everything we can to help ensure that families across Australia have the best possible opportunity to get ahead, that the economy is as strong as possible, that as many jobs as possible can be created in the economy and that Australians today and future generations of Australians have the best possible opportunity to get a good, well-paid job and to get ahead. Unlike the current Leader of the Labor Party, who seems to think that jobs grow on trees, on this side of the chamber we understand that jobs are created by successful, profitable businesses.

The more successful, the more profitable, businesses across Australia can be, the more Australians they can hire and the better wages they can afford to pay. That is why this government's strategy is to make it easier for businesses across Australia to be successful—by lowering their tax burden so they can attract more investment, improve productivity, become more profitable and hire more Australians and pay them better wages, by improving access to key markets around the world and through an ambitious free trade agenda, by reducing the cost of doing business through a deregulation and innovation agenda, and by reducing the cost of doing business by putting downward pressure on electricity prices. It is important to remember that Australia is in its 26th year of continuous growth. Jobs growth, as the Leader of the Government has been saying, has been running very strongly compared to what it was under the Labor Party in government. Indeed, over the most recent 12-month period more than four times as many jobs have been created across Australia than in the last four years of the Labor government. The trade balance— (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hume, a supplementary question.



Senator HUME (Victoria) (14:08): I thank the minister for his very comprehensive and inspiring response. Can the minister please explain why a more competitive business tax rate is so important for Australia's future economic success?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:08): As the former Secretary to the Treasury said when he was secretary under then Treasurer Swan, the principal beneficiaries of a more competitive business tax rate are workers. That is because a more competitive business tax rate will help us attract more investment, will help us improve productivity and will help businesses across Australia hire more Australians, and that will help businesses pay better wages. The reality is that 15 years ago Australia had the ninth-lowest corporate tax rate among advanced economies, but we are falling behind. Today, just five of 35 OECD nations have a corporate tax rate higher than ours, and of course we know that the Trump administration in the United States is about to reduce the corporate tax rate in the United States from 35 to 15 per cent. If we want to be able to attract investment into Australia, if we want to be able to attract capital to grow the economy, we need to be competitive. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hume, a final supplementary question.



Senator HUME (Victoria) (14:09): Perhaps the minister could alert the chamber to any alternative policy approaches that he knows of and what their effects would be on jobs and growth.


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:09): Sadly, I am aware of an alternative policy approach. The leader of the Labor Party—the current leader, I should say—said in his speech to the Press Club that his priority this year would be jobs, jobs, jobs, and then he proceeds to announce one job-killing policy after another. Every single one of the policies under the Bill Shorten Labor Party is designed to kill jobs. He wants higher taxes for business, making it harder for business to be successful, meaning fewer jobs and higher unemployment. He is against trade. He wants to push up the cost of electricity for businesses across Australia, making it harder for them to be successful. The thing Mr Shorten needs to understand is that jobs do not grow on trees—if you genuinely want more jobs created, join the coalition in helping businesses across Australia to be more successful so they can hire more Australians and pay them better wages.