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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4401


Mr THISTLETHWAITE (Kingsford Smith) (18:36): Last year the Senate asked the government to split its corporate tax bill. That was the bill that was seeking to reduce corporate taxes for big businesses from 30 per cent to 25 per cent, and the Senate wanted to split that bill and only have a threshold of $50. They would lower the corporate tax rate for businesses with a threshold below $50 million. What did the government do at the time the Senate made that request? The government agreed. The government agreed to split that corporate tax bill at the time and ensure that there was tax relief for businesses under $50 million worth of turnover.

The bills that we're discussing here today come in three phases, and it's clear that there are three phases of this particular plan. On 1 July this year the low- to middle-income tax offset of $530 comes into effect. Labor has said we will agree to this phase of the personal tax plan. But, as to the second and third phases, in 2022 and 2024, which really are a con job to try to hoodwink Australians into voting for the Turnbull government again and again, Labor, many in the Senate and, indeed, the Australian public have requested the year-by-year breakdowns and that this bill be split. We want to be able to guarantee this first phase of these personal income tax cuts, and we can do that. We do that and ensure that this tax relief is provided on 1 July this year.

So what we've got here is that the government is willing to split the corporate tax bill. They're willing to do what the Australian public didn't want in terms of tax cuts but what the Senate wanted in terms of splitting that bill, but they're not willing to do what the parliament now wants in terms of splitting these bills. It says everything about this government's priorities. They are willing to bend over backwards for business but are not willing to do the same to provide tax relief for households and workers. And, of course, we know that the big banks are the big beneficiaries of further tax cuts in the corporate sector and we know their record when it comes to supporting the big banks

Labor will support the first phase of the plans, and the reason we're still considering the second and third phases is that the government won't provide the year-by-year breakdowns of the cost of this proposal for the second and third phases of the tax plan. Given that the proposal doesn't come into effect for another seven years, there's no urgency to phases 2 and 3 of this tax plan. There is in respect of the first phase, and Labor said we would agree to that. We'll agree to that. Given the uncertainty that exists in the global and domestic economy into the medium term—something that's been recognised by Treasury, and something that's been recognised by this Treasurer sitting at the table today—and the fact that Treasury has admitted that the overall cost of this tax plan is $140 billion to the Australian budget, it's entirely reasonable that the Labor Party, as a good opposition, ask questions and get the details of the year-by-year breakdown of what's proposed here. We have tried to do that through several days of questions in the parliament during question time and we've tried to do it through the Senate estimates process, but guess what? The Treasurer and this government aren't forthcoming on this issue. We think that this is a reasonable request.

The IMF, the RBA and many economic commentators have said that this is a time for fiscal consolidation and not fiscal expansion. Given that there's uncertainty in the global economy moving into the second and third phase, it's entirely reasonable for the Labor Party to be asking for those details, and the government will not provide them. That is the reason Labor is still considering those second and third phases, and that is the reason Labor, entirely reasonably, is asking for this bill to be split. It's not inconsiderate, given that the government did that with the corporate tax plan. If they do that, we can provide immediate tax relief for households and workers in this country. So we once again ask that the government act reasonably and in the interests of Australian workers and consider splitting this tax bill.

The SPEAKER: The question is that the amendments moved by the member for McMahon be agreed to.