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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4360

Mr COLEMAN (BanksAssistant Minister for Finance) (15:39): In 2017, more jobs were created in Australia than in any other year in our history. A very strong economic record, and there is so much more to do to grow the economy. I want to talk about those things, but those opposite have one plan and one plan only, and that is a massive tax increase on the Australian people. They propose to put more than $200 billion of additional taxes onto the Australian economy. Their basic argument is that you can increase taxes by $200 billion and it has no impact on the economy. According to those opposite, everyone will just invest the same amount and do all of the same things that they would have done anyway, even though they now have to pay the government an additional $200 billion.

We know, Deputy Speaker Hogan, that the biggest single hit from those opposite is on retirees—older Australians. This is a tax on grandmas, grandfathers and on people who have saved for retirement. What you want to do is make them the No. 1 payer of tax to the Labor Party. That is what you want to do. It is an extraordinary proposal, that the biggest single hit across all of Labor's tax plans is actually on those who can afford it least, people who are retired.

Those opposite also voted against tax reductions for businesses with turnover of $2 million. They say that that's some huge multinational business, and so they went into the parliament and they voted against that. When they say that they're opposed to tax relief, what they're saying—and we know it, because they've already done it; they've already voted for it—is that they're against tax relief for a business that might be in the suburbs employing seven or eight people. They voted against a tax cut for that business. That remains their policy to this day, and that is the reality of their position, despite the fact that they mislead the parliament by stating it's all about multinationals—which it's not, because they voted against tax reductions for small businesses.

We know that the small businesses that have already received tax relief through the legislation in this parliament employ 6.8 million workers in Australia. We're seeing this tremendous uptake in investment, which is leading to record-breaking job growth, the biggest jobs growth in Australian history. Those opposite say to repeal that legislation; increase tax by $25 billion on small- and medium-sized business. It would be devastating for the economy. That is not this government's plan; that is what those opposite want to do. We also want to extend that tax relief more broadly to another 4½ thousand businesses, that employ four million people.

The UK corporate tax rate is 19 per cent; the US is 21 per cent. Oxford University says Australia has the 27th-highest corporate tax rate out of the 33 OECD nations. Now, those opposite say: 'None of that matters. It doesn't matter what the tax rate is.' Of course, we know that the shadow treasurer and the member for Fenner have written books about the importance of corporate tax relief, but now they say it doesn't matter at all what the tax rate is; it's completely irrelevant. 'Businesses will just invest the same amount and the same number of jobs will be created regardless of what the cost to those businesses is in the form of tax.' That, to anyone who has ever operated a business or had any involvement in the private sector at all, is obviously ridiculous, but that is their premise and one that we obviously very strongly reject.

We have a wide range of initiatives in the budget to help to continue to grow the very strong job creation we've seen: extending the instant asset write-off so that businesses with turnover of up to $10 million can get an immediate tax deduction on capital purchases of up to $20,000; a $200 billion investment in defence industry, leading to job creation across the country; and a huge investment in medical research, such an important industry for our country, as the Treasurer was discussing today. Those opposite want tax to be the biggest proportion of the economy in Australian history. That is their policy. That would be a devastating blow for this economy, and it's something that must not be allowed to happen.