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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4454


Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (11:45): Thank you for the opportunity to speak about the appropriation bills in light of what has been received and welcomed as a fair and equitable budget from the Turnbull coalition government. We went to an election openly, and our message to the Australian public was jobs and growth. We pretty well bored most of the Australian public with that message of jobs and growth and jobs and growth. Still I stand at this lectern today in front of the Australian public and suggest that we are delivering both jobs and growth—prosperity for our nation as a result of our prudent, responsible fiscal management. The budget is our major platform for that. Regarding jobs and growth, 2017 was the strongest year of jobs growth on record, according to the Bureau of Statistics, with no less than 415,000 jobs created, three-quarters of which were full time. Sometimes those brave trolls on social media say, 'Where are these jobs?' If you don't believe in the integrity of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, I ask you to go to the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. It will give you a breakdown of the service divisions of where those jobs are being created. If you don't trust them, go to the Reserve Bank. They will also give you a sense of where the economy is growing. More than a million jobs have been created since the Liberal-National government was elected in 2013. That is such an amazing feat.

To put those jobs into some type of contrast, and to understand whether or not 415,000 is a reasonable increase, we must ask what Labor produced in the way of jobs over a similar period and have a look at the final 12 months from when they were last in office. Was it 300,000 jobs? It was a bit lower. Was it 200,000 jobs? Again, it was lower than that. Did they get over the 100,000-job mark in that 12-month period? No, they didn't. Labor, the so-called 'friend of the worker', produced only 89,000 jobs, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, during the remarkably disastrous 12-month Rudd-Gillard-Shorten-Rudd period of absolute anarchy. That is the contrast.

We will hear the rhetoric of how this side of the House is deserting families and giving $17 billion worth of cuts to the big banks. I want to have a chat with the Australian public about when our corporate tax rates are set to kick in. They are outside our forward estimates period—that is, four years down the track. They talk about the $17 billion worth of tax cuts we are giving to big banks. By that time the additional levy we have imposed upon the big banks will generate no less than $16 billion for the federal coffers. We will pull that benefit back from the banks, and it will offset their tax cuts. The corporate tax rates will advantage those businesses in my electorate with turnover of $50 million. Guess what? Businesses with over $50 million turnover will be the benefit of our company tax rate. They go broke as well. It is a competitive industry out there.

The largest contributor to GDP in my electorate is agriculture. I was on a farm the other day with the Prime Minister and the agriculture minister. When I say farm, it is a large organisation. They employ 900 staff. They add value to their product. When you go into the large retailers, you see their product, grown in the Lockyer Valley, on the shelves: zucchini noodles, carrot noodles—ready to cook, picked and packed—coleslaw mixes, bean mixes and cauliflower rice, which is delightful on the dinner plate. So those companies, if given the opportunity, if given a financial break through the company tax rates, will reinvest back in their communities. They will reinvest back with the likes of John Deere, the local tractor agents and the produce and fertiliser salespeople. That is how our local economies grow.

If the opposition looked closely, they would also see that the banks in the 2015-16 period paid a combined company tax bill of over $10 billion. That was reported by the Australian tax office data.gov.au, if you want to have a look at it. Banks pay company tax at the company tax rate. They don't get a special deal, but we do trim them up with the levy. Why is it that the Labor Party want to drive down jobs growth and wages down by stifling those businesses that want to employ Australians. They are businesses like Hood's Rugby Farms—local businesses.

With Australia's current tax competitiveness ranked as one of the lowest and poorest rates across a range of measures, Labor would want to drive the coffin nails in a little bit further. Let's talk about how competitive we are in that tax space. Data released by the Oxford Centre of Business Taxation suggests that, in the 2017 tax competitive ranking of OECD countries, Australia was ranked as the 27th worst performer out of 33 nations. So we are trailing at 27 out of 33. This is the seventh worst ranking on the basis of headline tax and the effective average tax rate. We are ranked 26 out of 33 on the basis of effective marginal tax rates. It is important to understand that last bit, because those who don't want to acknowledge the work done by the Oxford Centre of Business Taxation suggest that there are other local rates of taxation that offset it and skew that data. But when you look at it through the prism of the effective average tax rate, all of those factors are taken into consideration.

In October 2017, the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook report found that a stimulus budget with a mutual reduction in corporate tax rates in France, Germany and the United States would increase economic activities in those localities, whilst also having negative economic spillovers for countries such as ours. The IMF are flagging to the world that, if Australia does not move into this space of company tax rates, it will be left behind. The world is a competitive place for the international flow of capital. We ignore it at our peril. Chris Richards from Deloitte Access Economics said this about the company tax rate: 'This federal tax hurts the economy more than any other.' It is shrinking our economy. We ignore these commentators at our own peril. When Australia cut its tax rate to 30 per cent in 2001 there were 19 OECD countries with higher tax rates than us. Have a guess how many there are today: two. We are lagging. When France's legislation kicks in in 2020, the only OECD country with a higher company tax rate than Australia will be—guess which country, Mr Deputy Speaker?—Portugal. We're asleep at the wheel on this.

Labor claim that it will fund its spending promises by not proceeding with the company tax reductions under our enterprise tax plan. So, as I suggested earlier in my contribution, the revenues that we are going to get from the company tax rates, the $17 billion, won't be realised in our receipts for another four years. But, if you have a look at what Labor are proposing in their budget reply speech, they are going to start spending that money today. Once again, it is Labor who are recklessly spending money they don't have. If you want to put our prudent economic management up against Labor's, remember when they were last in power. They thought they would put up taxes and call it the 'super mining profits tax'? It was to raise $300 million.

Mr Wallace: I remember that.

Mr BUCHHOLZ: What happened was that they went out and spent all of these revenue gains. Member for Fisher, can you remember how much revenue that tax raised?

Mr Wallace: I believe it was somewhere between nil and zero.

Mr BUCHHOLZ: Let's call it nil then, for the sake of splitting hairs. It raised no money. They were unable to raise it. That is the difference between our prudent economic management in running the economy and providing jobs and growth, as opposed to those on the other side, who should never, never be allowed anywhere near the economy. The Australian Labor Party will happily discard the hopes and aspirations of hardworking Australians, Australians who have paid taxes their entire life and have budgeted for their retirement so that they are no longer a welfare burden on the taxpayer. They are people who make contributions to our society, like nurses, teachers, police officers, Defence personnel. In retirement they will be worse off under a Labor government.

People are right: they deserve better. In my electorate they deserve better. I want to give you some statistics for the benefit of Hansard. 63,095 taxpayers live in Wright. Our plan is to address bracket creep, which means that around 95 per cent of all taxpayers are projected to face a marginal tax rate of 32.5 per cent or less. Many initiatives in the budget, for example the More Choices for a Longer Life package, will support no less than 22,700 people aged over 65 and their families in my electorate. We have extended the $20,000 instant asset write-off for small businesses, which will affect over 2½ thousand businesses. I was very proud to be able to lobby the government to maintain the National School Chaplaincy program. They do an amazing job. That is $247 million. My heart goes out to all of the unsung heroes in that space.

We have committed $200 million for a third round of the Building Better Regions Fund. Last year our community benefited from this fund with $15,000 for research into horticultural practices in the Lockyer Valley and $80,000 supporting the Scenic Rim for their Eat Local Week activities. Funding for other rounds of the highly successful Stronger Communities program is under way. It has been such a great program backing local schools, P&Cs, local sporting clubs, charities, historical societies and showgrounds. I look forward to making sure my community is connected with more money from those funds.

This budget also includes $29.7 million for sports infrastructure grants, which help sporting clubs do a fabulous job, especially in the regional communities like my electorate. There is a 56 per cent funding boost to the Local Sporting Champions program.

There is a funding increase of 34 per cent for Queensland public hospitals. You will hear those on the other side saying that we are cutting funds to hospitals. Go and have a look! The cheque gets bigger and bigger every year.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr BUCHHOLZ: You hear those on other side squealing in disbelief—it's like taking a baby suckling from the sow's teat—as they suggest that we are cutting money from hospital funding. No-one in Australia should be able to trust Labor, because the reality is we are spending more in hospitals and more in schools. The way you would work out whether or not we are spending more is to have a look at what we spent last year.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr BUCHHOLZ: You should hear the outcry from the other side of the chamber!

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Vamvakinou ): I can hear the outcry.

Mr BUCHHOLZ: Of course you can. People in my electorate can hear it. They know quite well. In order to spend more money on hospitals, the cheque that we give to hospitals in Queensland is greater than what it was last year. If we were spending less, that money would be a smaller amount. Those on the other side are mendacious in their claims that we are not spending more on hospitals and in our schools.

There are 6,400 local families set to benefit from the new childcare reforms. More importantly, the Prime Minister was in my electorate the other day announcing $51.3 million to grow our agricultural exports. We have a number of free trade agreements around the world, but behind that there are inhibitors that mean my local growers can't get into some of these free trade economies because of biosecurity protocols. That $51 million will strategically place assets around the world so that my growers can get access to those free trade agreements. We will also spend $121.6 million investing in biosecurity protections for product that is going to come to Australia. In the horticulture sector—in the agricultural sector at large—we have a clean, green image, and we will spend and invest money to make sure that we protect that. This is a great budget. It is a budget that shows quite clearly the difference between our side of government and those on the other side—who can't be trusted and who, when last in power, did nothing but wreck the economy,