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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4356


Mr SUKKAR (DeakinAssistant Minister to the Treasurer) (15:24): The shadow Treasurer has just wasted his opportunity to talk about the wonderful economic news this country faces. He wasted 10 minutes. Instead of talking about the interests of Australians, he thought he would make a shabby point here in this parliament. This is the hallmark of this shadow Treasurer, a hallmark of the disaster that was his time as the Treasurer of this country, with his $16 billion black hole. He doesn't want to talk about the million jobs created by the government in 4½ years. You had 10 minutes where you could have spoken about those one million jobs, but instead you chose to make shabby little points here in this parliament. This defines this disgraceful shadow Treasurer. Here we've got a government that's encouraged Australians to create one million new jobs in 4½ years, six months ahead of schedule, and, instead of talking about that, this failed shadow Treasurer, the worst immigration minister in this country's history, chose to waste 10 minutes making shabby tactical points here in this parliament.

Last year we saw 415,000 jobs created in this country. Do you think you can get a smile or anything out of the Labor Party? No, that 415,000 jobs created last year is bad news. You don't hear a word about it. When we took office in 2013, we had a slowing economy, a deteriorating budget position and increasing unemployment. Under whose watch was that? It was the shadow Treasurer's. That is his legacy for this country. We've done the hard yards in 4½ years to rescue that.

What did we see on budget night last week? We saw a government with immediate personal tax relief for 10 million Australians. For 4.4 million Australians, there will be a tax offset of $530 a year. For a double-income household, that's $1,000 a year. Members opposite scoffed at $1,000 a year for households. But that is very important for every single Australian managing a tight budget. We don't just have a plan to provide immediate income tax relief for low- and middle-income taxpayers; we have a medium- and longer-term plan to enshrine tax relief for Australians each year for the next seven years. Step 1 of our tax plan provides, as I said, $530 a year for taxpayers—over $1,000 for a double-income household. Step 2 of the tax plan addresses bracket creep by ensuring that that middle tax bracket rises from $90,000 to $120,000 a year, while lower income tax brackets move from $37,000 to $41,000 a year. Step 3 of the tax plan makes our entire tax system fairer and flatter by ensuring that we abolish entirely the 37 per cent tax threshold, which means that 94 per cent of Australians will never face a higher marginal tax rate than 32½ per cent.

That has been welcomed across this country, because Australians know that they can spend every single dollar better than the government can. As the Treasurer said in question time today, unlike the Labor Party's view, government is not some benevolent society that thinks they own everything and every dollar that they allow you to keep is somehow a gift from them. No, it's taxpayers' money, and we shouldn't take anything more from them than we need to. But we know the Labor Party has a very different view. We know that the Labor Party, with its $220 billion of additional taxes, is the absolute antithesis of the view that taxpayers can spend their money better than government. The Labor Party want to take your money. They think they've got a better way of spending it.

The shadow Treasurer is hairy-chested talking about corporates and the big end of town, but who is the shadow Treasurer attacking to fund his tax plans?

Who is the shadow Treasurer attacking to fund his pork barrel around the country? He's going after retirees and self-managed superannuants. That's who he's going after. Not the big, bad, scary corporates or the millionaires or the billionaires that he talks about. No. He's funding his pork barrel through the hard work and hard savings of self-funded retirees and low-income retirees. What a contemptible policy to run around this country running this faux class war campaign. Who's he going after? Low-income retirees. I was out last week at a number of forums, and there are a million Australians who are not going to allow the Labor Party to forget that. They're not going to allow the Labor Party to forget that they're the people the party is attacking to fund their tax plans.

In addition to the personal income tax relief which we are providing—over seven years Australians will know that each and every year they will enjoy tax relief of some form—we're also backing businesses. We're backing businesses in the same way we backed businesses when we reduced taxes through the enterprise tax plan for businesses with a turnover up to $50 million. The Labor Party want to talk about small retail stores or small manufacturers with three or four or half a dozen employees that turn over $2.1 million as though they're Apple or Google or some sort of multinational who doesn't deserve tax relief. Well, we know small and medium enterprises are the backbone of this economy. They have been the backbone of the million jobs that we've seen created in record time. They're the backbone of the 415,000 jobs—the record jobs in a 12-month period—that we saw up to 31 December last year. They are the people that we are backing this year.

We announced it in the budget, and it's very popular: the extension to accelerated depreciation of up to $20,000. That is a practical way of the government saying: 'We want to help you get ahead. We want to help you invest in your business. We know small businesses often operate more like families than businesses. We know that for every dollar they save they reinvest it into the business. We know that they use that to employ more people. We know that they give more young people opportunities than almost any other sector of the economy.' That's why it was very interesting to see the shadow Treasurer's line of questioning last week asking for costings on the enterprise tax plan. That seems to indicate that the shadow Treasurer has a secret plan of increase taxes for businesses with turnover above $2 million. It seems like the shadow Treasurer, who's been running around all hairy-chested and who's been trying to be like a modern-day Robin Hood going after the big, bad multinationals, is going after low-income retirees and small family businesses.

When you boil it all down, the shadow Treasurer squibbed the fight that he's been talking about all these years—this faux class war that he's been trying to run—and in the end he's funding his tax plans and he's funding his pork barrel through a million low-income retirees. They're a million Australians who've worked their whole lives, who've paid taxes, who've been law abiding citizens and who've put money away to provide for themselves in their retirement. They're who he's going after. The second group he's going after is small, family-run businesses. What an absolute disgrace.

This faux class warfare campaign is over because we know the two groups he's going after are the most vulnerable. That's who he wants to shoulder the burden of his unrestrained spending. We saw it the last time he was the Treasurer. He was the worst immigration minister this country has ever seen, and then he was promoted to Treasurer, and what were we left with? We were left with a slowing economy, increasing unemployment and a deteriorating budget position. And this man wants to be promoted! He should hang his head in shame. We will ensure that our plans for personal tax relief, for backing businesses and for bringing the budget back into surplus a year early continue to strengthen the economy, because we know that this shadow Treasurer wants to strangle the economy and everything that goes with it.