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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 6816


Mr RAMSEY (GreyGovernment Whip) (14:32): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister update the House on how the government's competitive tax system is supporting businesses to link our world-class education services to the Indo-Pacific region, creating Australian jobs? Is the minister aware of any alternatives that would not provide similar support for Australian businesses?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:33): I thank the member for Grey for this very important question. At the outset, in relation to educational links to the Indo-Pacific, I announce to the House that, under the latest New Colombo Plan grants round, between 2014 and 2020 40,000 Australian undergraduates will have lived, studied and worked in our Indo-Pacific region. That's 40,000 young Australian ambassadors underpinning our engagement in the Indo-Pacific.

On education services more generally, our impressive export performance is driven by businesses that compete in world markets and sell their goods and services overseas. The education sector is, in fact, through our education services industry, the third-largest exporter in Australia, valued at $30 billion in 2017. That's a 17½ per cent increase over 2016. Our education services sector could grow even more if the businesses that were delivering education services could be more competitive on the world stage. That means lower corporate tax rates so that they can put more money in their businesses, invest more and create more jobs.

We must be aware of the fact that our competitors in the education services sector internationally are countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and other OECD countries, which have far lower tax rates than Australia. In fact, on the OECD tax scale, Australia is now the second highest. So, we back SMEs like ARO Educational Services at Bridgewater in the electorate of Mayo. They are providing horticultural training and agribusiness training. They want to expand internationally, and they've in fact received an Export Market Development Grant from the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment so that they can expand globally. And we back MRWED, a training company in Caboolture in the electorate of Longman. They've set up training centres across Australia. They, too, want to expand their educational services into the Indo-Pacific and beyond, and they have also received an Export Market Development Grant from the Turnbull government.

So, on this side of the House we are backing businesses in the education sector to sell their services overseas. We are doing so by giving them tax cuts, a lower tax rate and by giving them export grants. We back small businesses in the education sector. On the other side of the House they've declared war on business, they've declared war on the education sector, and they've made them competitively— (Time expired)