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Wednesday, 15 October 2003
Page: 21487

Mr SCHULTZ (3:06 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Small Business and Tourism. Would the minister advise the House how increases in land tax are hurting small businesses? Is the minister aware of any support for increasing the tax burden on small businesses?

Mr HOCKEY (Minister for Small Business and Tourism) —I thank the member for Hume for his question and acknowledge how hard he fights for small businesses in Bowral, Goulburn and various other important centres in his electorate. The coalition government believes that small business should pay less tax. That is why under this government we have reduced company tax from 36 per cent to 30 per cent; that is why we have substantially reduced income tax so that around 75 to 80 per cent of Australians are paying no more than 30c in the dollar; and that is why through our tax reform initiatives we have abolished wholesale sales tax and provisional tax and have created an environment for the abolition of a number of state stamp duties.

Out of all this, together with—and I should not forget this—our major initiative on capital gains tax, where we have halved the rate of capital gains tax and created rollover relief for small business on capital gains tax, we have backed up our words about reducing the tax burden on small business with real action. So it is alarming for all of the members of the Liberal and National parties, and for more than one million small businesses around Australia, that the state Labor governments continue to increase the tax burden on small business. In New South Wales alone this year, Bob Carr and his Labor mates are collecting more payroll tax than ever before; they are collecting more stamp duty than ever before; and they are now collecting $133 million more in land tax than they did last year.

I want to know what the members of the Labor Party based in New South Wales are saying. I want to know what the member for Hunter is saying to those small businesses in Cessnock, because the member for Hunter does not stand up for small business when it comes to taxation. He wants to see increased tax on small business. What are the member for Chifley and the member for Greenway saying to the small business people in Blacktown? A little earlier the member for Chifley asked why unemployment is higher in his electorate. I say this: one of the reasons is that small businesses in his electorate are paying higher state taxes than those in any other jurisdiction in Australia. They are paying land tax on their rents. At the end of the day, those small businesses in Western Sydney have a higher penalty on further employment than do businesses based in Brisbane, Melbourne or other places. I want to know what the member for Banks is saying to some of the small business people in parts of his electorate, such as Roselands and Revesby. What is he saying to them about the state Labor taxes? We know what the member for Werriwa says. I found a little beauty.

Mr Howard —Not another one?

Mr HOCKEY —Another one. I thought for a brief moment that the member for Werriwa might be agreeing with us about tax. During the second reading debate on the Trade Practices Amendment (Small Business Protection) Bill 2002, the member for Werriwa said—

Honourable members interjecting

Mr HOCKEY —Got me worried! The member for Werriwa said:

What major issue is identified as the most important hindrance or constraint to small and medium sized business growth? It is taxes and government charges.

This is the member for Werriwa. He said:

It is taxes and government charges. That is the big issue that is concerning the small business sector.

On the same day that the member for Werriwa raises the issue of homelessness, I remind the member for Werriwa of his words about taxes in Western Sydney, when he said:

It is a legitimate goal of government to lift land prices in Western Sydney.

That is terrible for homeless people, but it is also bad for small businesses—the small businesses that have to pay more land tax today, more stamp duty today and higher rents today and that now find it more difficult to employ people in Western Sydney. If the Labor Party is really serious about creating jobs and providing opportunities for people, particularly in New South Wales, then they should get on the phone to Bob Carr and ask him to start reducing taxes instead of increasing them.