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Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Page: 2421


Senator STOKER (Queensland) (15:21): I rise to take note of the contribution of Senator Brown and of course the contributions made by Senator Cormann and particularly Senator Fierravanti-Wells in the course of today's debate.

Senator Wong interjecting

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Wong. Senator Stoker, in taking note, you're taking note of answers to questions. Senator Wong took note of answers provided by Senator Cormann, so that really needs to be the premise of your five-minute contribution.

Senator STOKER: Certainly. In the course of question time, Senator Cormann exposed Labor's complaint about the enterprise tax cuts that are before this parliament; he exposed that complaint for the misconception that it is. The policy to cut business tax rates doesn't work because the Business Council of Australia says it will or won't. It doesn't work because anybody else might write a letter expressing their opinion. It works, as Senator Cormann has explained, because it is basic economics. When we cut business tax rates, we attract capital and investment to this country. When we cut business tax rates, we empower businesses to reinvest in this country. We empower them to put more and more into growing their business. And what does that mean for Australians? It means the confidence to take on more staff, to create more jobs. It means that, as those jobs are created, unemployment reduces and competition for workers increases. It means that competition drives growing wages throughout the economy, and good employment opportunities and wages growth empower the confidence of Australian workers. It empowers them to spend. It empowers them to buy a home, to save for their retirement and to do all of the things that are so important to ordinary Australians reaching their potential.

This is good for the Australian economy, and, as Senator Cormann noted today, Labor knows it too. That's why Mr Shorten has expressed his firm support in the past for business tax cuts. He knows deep down that's what the Australian economy needs. He might be from the opposition, but I'll give him credit where it's due—he is right when he says so. But, when it became politically expedient, he abandoned that commitment. He abandoned common sense and he flip-flopped to now oppose what is a sensible measure to create growth in this economy. Mr Shorten, as Senator Cormann noted, flip-flopped like a pancake on the need to use business tax cuts to grow the Australian economy and create opportunities for Australians.

He did so just like he flipped on the need to invest in regional Queensland. He flipped just like he did on the importance of the Adani Carmichael mine in North Queensland, which will create desperately needed jobs for North Queenslanders.

The coalition, in contrast, is absolutely committed to building opportunity and jobs in this country. All of the evidence that is before this parliament, including the Australian Treasury's modelling when it examined international trends in company tax rates and the implications for Australian company tax, shows that as these rates are reduced there is an enormous benefit to the Australian economy. All of it shows that, as company tax rates reduce, there is growth in the corporate sector, increased profitability and increased opportunity for Australians.

I want to turn to the answers given by Senator Fierravanti-Wells in the course of question time. She explained how important the Australian coalition's commitment is to providing support to our partners throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It's worth noting that aid has increased in this country. In 2017-18 it rose to $3.9 billion, which is a 2.2 per cent increase on the previous year. That program is committed to providing lifesaving assistance to those in need. We are giving $399.7 million in this financial year to humanitarian emergency and disaster relief. The government doesn't commit to prescriptive time-bound targets, but it will always remain focused on delivering results for the people in our region and security for this nation. (Time expired)