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Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Page: 260


Senator KIM CARR (Victoria) (13:44): It is an assertion that you have made yourselves on page 18 of your budget paper No. 2, and I raised it in the context that the previous Labor government explicitly decoupled the proposition that there would be a link between the taxation rate of companies and the R&D tax credit. That was one of the reforms that we introduced.

Mr Scott Morrison admitted when he made some statements just last week that the Abbott government had left Australian business in limbo. I think that was the word he used: 'in limbo'. Clearly you are trying to extract yourself from the chaotic arrangements that your leader had placed upon you in regard to his changes to the Paid Parental Leave policy and the backflip that he engaged in with that. There is no doubt that there is a flip-flop arrangement when it comes to the taxation policy of the government, and my concern here is what the government has prosecuted through its budget papers: trying to assert that there is a link between the R&D tax incentive scheme and the rate of company tax.

But let me just go to the issue of the arrangements regarding so-called retrospectivity. In the report of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee examining the original government bill—that is the $20 billion proposal, as distinct from the revised government bill, since it is quite clear that you are the real owners of this revised amendment, which of course was never flagged anywhere and never discussed prior to the consideration of these matters—the Liberal Party's Senator Bushby argued on page 14 of the report:

Generally, retrospective tax legislation is not desirable and any such legislation should ideally be limited to rare circumstances, such as to correct unintended consequences or to address integrity issues. However, the proposed amendments have been foreshadowed for some time—

by, it was claimed, the previous government.

Senator Cormann: That's right—by Labor.

Senator KIM CARR: I am quoting directly from the report. This is the argument that was put:

… the previous government introduced a bill in June 2013 which, if passed, would have enacted them.

That is page 14 of the report. Irrespective of the fact that the parliament had been prorogued and that this was a new bill—and, of course, irrespective of the fact that the previous regime was directly tied to the jobs package—I would ask you: where was the $100 million cap foreshadowed by any public announcement or previous legislation by this government? How would such a statement actually satisfy the test that was established in the economics committee report by Senator Bushby?