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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3259


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (14:52): My question is to the Treasurer. Why is it critical for the parliament to support policies that spread the benefits and opportunities of the Asian century to all corners of our economy?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:52): I thank the member for Parramatta for that question. This is indeed a historic day for economic reform and a historic day for the fair go in Australia. As the MRRT is debated in the Senate, it should be noted that this important reform will provide a revenue stream to ensure that businesses in particular that are not in the fast lane of the resources boom get some tax relief. It is a very important reform which goes to the fact that we on this side of the House understand that the global economic weight is moving from West to East and with that it will bring a resources boom to this country. And it will mean that we must maximise the opportunities that flow from that boom and spread them to every corner of our economy. That is why the debate in the Senate is so important.

Just as we moved during the global financial crisis to support our economy, we are now moving to put in place the big reforms which will maximise the opportunities that will flow to everyone in our country, not just a select few. Of course, one of those reforms was announced by the Prime Minister today—the importance of skills and the importance of people being able to upskill, and what that means in terms of their capacity to earn and to stand on their own two feet. We also know that we need to spread the benefits of the mining boom through cuts to company taxation, particularly to those companies that are not in the fast lane of the mining boom. That is why on this side of the House we stand for tax cuts for those companies that are not in the fast lane, but of course those tax cuts are opposed by those opposite.

Those opposite are being either deliberately deceitful or massively ignorant when it comes to this legislation that is in the Senate. We on this side of the House understand the importance of taking the super profits of very profitable companies and sharing them right around the country. What the debate in the Senate shows and what it showed in this House is that those opposite have not got a clue. You could never trust them with the government of this country. They are so out of touch, they do not understand that a company tax cut is important for 2.7 million small businesses. They voted against it. We voted for it. They do not understand the importance of investing in infrastructure. We voted for it. They voted against it. Now, we get to the extraordinary situation where those opposite want to increase company tax by 1½ per cent whilst we want to reduce it by one per cent, making their company tax regime 10 per cent higher than ours. Why would they adopt such a stupid and ignorant position? I will tell you why, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will return to the specifics of the question.

Mr SWAN: It is because there is a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line. They are not capable of running a modern economy. (Time expired)