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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14707

Mr EVANS (Brisbane) (19:54): For the first time in 12 years, after more than a decade of deficits, the budget is returning to surplus. We're back in the black. Our country is, once again, living within its means. This budget surplus has come about only because our government has remained committed to our economic plan to restore the nation's finances and fix the problems Labor left behind. Importantly, we're returning to surplus and reducing debt not through higher taxes but through good budget management and by sustaining growth. Returning the budget to surplus is an important economic milestone. Of course, it goes to confidence and business sentiment and it sustains our AAA credit rating, amongst other tangible benefits, yet a surplus is not just an end in and of itself. At the end of the day, a strong budget and a strong economy is what our communities and our constituents need to deliver on their needs and aspirations.

One reason it's important to put the nation's finances on a more sustainable footing is to reduce the burden on future generations. Yesterday marked the beginning of the end of the intergenerational theft that Labor's debt has imposed on our future generations. A budget surplus enables us to guarantee the essential services that Australians need and rely on. And a budget surplus means more invested in infrastructure, in our healthcare system, in training, in education and in our environment and less wasted on paying interest.

This budget strongly backs small and medium-sized businesses by lowering their taxes, allowing them to reinvest in their businesses, employ more workers and grow. The small businesses in Brisbane, which I support and love so dearly, rely on good economic policy because they are delivering the opportunities and the prosperity we all want to see for the future. Put simply, stronger small businesses mean more local jobs and better paid jobs. There are now over 36,000 small and medium businesses in Brisbane. I am so proud that there are 3,000 more small businesses in Brisbane than when I was elected three years ago. It's no coincidence that, at the same time as all of that growth in our small-business sector, Brisbane's unemployment rate is now estimated to be as low as 4.2 per cent, down from almost six per cent when our government took office. That's why I'm so proud that this budget continues our strong support for small business. It brings forward their 25 per cent tax rate and increases their access to finance with a new $2 billion fund, and it increases and extends the instant asset write-off, which I know is being used successfully by so many of our local small businesses around Brisbane to grow and to take their businesses to the next level.

The budget is also providing additional income tax relief to over 88,000 hardworking Brisbane residents. The budget delivers immediate tax relief of up to $1,080 for low- and middle-income earners and up to $2,160 for a dual-income couple. Over 33,000 locals around Brisbane will receive the full tax offset of $1,080 in their next tax return in about 13 weeks time. This tax relief is a dividend from strong economic management, and it will help ease the cost-of-living pressures faced by Brisbane households.

There's a stark contrast developing here on tax policy, because the alternative is $200 billion of tax increases from the Labor Party. A Shorten Labor government means new and higher taxes on retirees, housing, income, investments, trusts, family businesses and energy. In Brisbane, over 7,000 local residents would be hit by Labor's proposed retiree tax. More than 11,000 Brisbane residents invest in a rental house or flat using negative gearing, which Labor would abolish. On top of that, every house owner will have the value of their biggest investment hit, and every renter in Brisbane is predicted to see their rents rise by up to 22 per cent.

Our government has restored the nation's finances, strengthened our economy and guaranteed essential services without increasing taxes. There is record funding for schools, hospitals, aged care, medical research and the environment without an increase in taxes. There are more life-saving medicines on the PBS, as well as record funding for youth mental health, record funding to fight the scourge of ice, record funding for the Great Barrier Reef and more funding to reduce emissions.