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Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2244

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (12:50): I would like to add a few comments to follow up comments made by the members for Fenner and Kingsford Smith. Firstly, the member for Fenner made the allegation that the coalition's plans to reduce the corporate rate of tax in this nation are budget busting. The member of Fenner should know that every cent of that is already in the budget, and we will have that budget back into balance and then into surplus very soon.

Secondly, the other point that I think needs to be made is that it appears that we have members of the Labor Party that are living in a fool's paradise if they think that we do not have to respond to the US reduction in the rate of corporate tax. The US are reducing their rate of corporate tax to 21 per cent—in the world's largest economy. But they are not the only nation that are reducing their rate of corporate tax. It is also the UK and France. In fact, over the last decade, we have seen almost every major OECD nation reduce their rate of corporate tax. We understand that we as a nation need to be competitive to attract investment and drive jobs growth to drive the prosperity of this nation. Anyone that thinks that we can just sit on our hands and watch our global competitors reduce their corporate rate of tax while we do nothing is living in a fool's paradise.

But there are other risks to our nation's competitiveness. It is not only that the Labor Party does not understand the importance of our corporate rate of tax being internationally competitive. The other threat we have seen in the last 24 hours is the real sovereign risk that comes with the conduct of the Leader of the Opposition. Today's papers are reporting a duplicitous stance by the Leader of the Opposition on the Carmichael coalmine, telling one group of CFMEU workers and those in Northern Queensland that he's in favour of the mine but telling others that he's against it.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): The member for Lingiari, on a point of order?

Mr Snowdon: This contribution is ranging far further than this legislation. I ask you to bring the member to order on the matter of relevance.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: The issues raised by members in this debate clearly go to the competitiveness of the Australian economy.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Hughes is in order. He will continue.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. It is clear, as I was saying, that it is important that our nation stays internationally competitive to attract investment. One of the risks to that is the corporate rate of tax, and the opposition are burying their heads in the sand about that. But the other danger is the sovereign risk that has been raised in the last 24 hours, where we have the Leader of the Opposition being duplicitous, saying one thing to one group of people about the Carmichael coalmine up in Northern Queensland—that he's in favour of it—but saying another thing to green, environmental activists—that he will block it; he will revoke their licence. What message does that send to foreign investors who are thinking about bringing to Australia their capital that will help create jobs and wealth and raise revenue for the government to pay for all those things that we want to pay for—for pensions, for aged care, for hospitals, for schools and for kids with disability? We've got to create that wealth and we need to attract that foreign capital. But what would people sitting around a boardroom table overseas think when they pick up the paper today and read that the alternative leader of the Australian nation is so duplicitous that, if he comes to office, he will revoke a licence given out? Who is going to put their capital up, to take the risks, to go through the environmental approvals that take years in this nation, knowing that, if they do everything correctly and by the book, the alternative leader of the government will revoke their licence simply to appease extreme environmentalists and to win green votes in marginal electorates?

We are in a competitive race against nations in the rest of the world. This is why the corporate tax rate is important for our nation. This is why everything this government does is to make sure that our nation stays competitive—because we realise that is the only way we can continue to finance our first-rate hospitals, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, our pensions and our aged care. Those things are so important to this nation and we all want to be able to afford to do that. The only way we can continue to do that is to ensure our nation is internationally competitive in attracting investment—and the greatest threat to that is those members who sit on the opposite side of the chamber.