Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 785

Taxation


Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital TerritoryManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (14:59): My question is to the minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. I refer to the Prime Minister who said:

If we had a 25 per cent business tax rate today, full-time workers on average weekly earnings would have an extra $750 in their pockets each and every year.

Minister, why should Australian workers embrace a $50 billion handout to big business on the promise of a 1.1 per cent increase in wages in 20 years' time?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (15:00): Well, Senator Gallagher, I am very surprised to hear you raising the question of business tax cuts because, of course, we know that your leader, Mr Shorten, some years ago when he was a minister in the Gillard government, was the greatest advocate for business tax cuts in Australia. He was an eloquent advocate for business tax cuts was Mr Bill Shorten, but for some reason in opposition Mr Shorten, who walks both sides of the street and who says one thing to one group of people and the opposite to another group of people, all of a sudden has discovered that business tax cuts are bad. This, by the way, is the same Mr Shorten who condemns 457 visas, yet when he was minister in government—

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. Order, minister. Senator Gallagher, a point of order?

Senator Gallagher: We are almost halfway through the answer—this is a point of order on relevance. The question was very specific. Why should Australian workers embrace a $50 billion handout to big business on the promise of a 1.1 per cent increase in wages in 20 years' time? It is a question that the minister must answer.

The PRESIDENT: I will remind the minister of the question.

Senator BRANDIS: I am merely invoking your own leader, Senator Gallagher, in the remarks he made some years ago to explain why it is that business tax cuts are a good idea. This is what Mr Shorten had to say:

Cutting the company income tax rate increases domestic productivity and domestic investment. More capital means higher productivity and economic growth and leads to more jobs and higher wages.

That is what Mr Shorten said in the other place on 23 August 2011.

Senator Cormann interjecting

Senator BRANDIS: No, Senator Cormann, I could not have put it better myself, either: more leads to more growth and higher wages. That is why the coalition government wants the Enterprise Tax Plan passed through the Senate, front-end loaded in favour of small business, but in the long run favouring all businesses, because we know, as Mr Shorten used to know in 2011 before it suited him to change his tune, that business tax cuts lead to 'more jobs and higher wages'.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Gallagher, a supplementary question. Order on my right!








Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital TerritoryManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (15:02): Given single income families on $65,000 with two children in high school stand to lose $3000 as a result of the Turnbull government's cuts to family tax benefits, why should workers embrace a $50 billion tax cut on the promise of $2 a day in 20 years' time?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (15:03): Because, Senator Gallagher, it means more jobs and higher wages. I am sure that workers at every level of the income scale, whether they be low-paid workers, middle-paid workers or better-paid workers, have something to gain from more jobs and higher wages. Who was it who said that business tax cuts will produce more jobs and higher wages? Well, it was the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Turnbull—and he is right—but, before Mr Turnbull said it, it was Mr Bill Shorten when he was a minister in the government of Julia Gillard, who also said that business tax cuts would produce more jobs and higher wages. You see, Senator Gallagher, if you cut the cost of doing business, you incentivise businesses to expand to hire more workers and you give them the scope to pay higher wages. Mr Shorten knew that six years ago; it is passing strange that he has forgotten it today.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Gallagher, a final supplementary question.



Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital TerritoryManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (15:04): Given the Turnbull government's $50 billion tax cut for big business promises workers $750 in 20 years—

Senator Wong interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong.

Senator GALLAGHER: and at the same time is risking Australia's AAA credit rating, which could smash family budgets by putting up mortgage payments by $720 a year, isn't it clear that the Turnbull government will always put the interests of big business before the interests of working Australians?




Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (15:04): Mr President, you will have to give me a little bit of latitude here, because I could not hear a word of the first half of the question for the screeching across the chamber by Senator Wong, the Leader of the Opposition. Nevertheless, I will try and address what I understand to be the point of the question from what I heard.

No, Senator Gallagher, that is not the case. The reason is: as Mr Shorten used to say though no longer does, a business tax cut will lead to more jobs and higher wages. Perhaps, Senator Gallagher, if you take part in the take-note debate after this question time, you might care to explain to the Senate why it is that in 2011 Mr Shorten was so committed to a business tax cut—because it would produce more jobs and higher wages—but he has walked away from that belief in 2017. Could it be because he is a rank populist? Could it be because he is a hypocrite? Could it be that he does not believe a thing he says.

I ask that further questions be put on notice.