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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6167

Taxation


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:46): My question is to the Prime Minister. In the last month, the Commonwealth Bank was fined $700 million for repeated breaches of anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism-financing laws. So why is the Prime Minister this week trying to cut a deal with the One Nation political party to reward the same big banks with a $17 billion handout?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:47): The major bank levy, of course, in last year's budget demonstrated the government's commitment to ensuring that the banks paid a fair contribution for the protection they have in the implicit guarantee they get from government, and that's a very substantial charge on them.

The case for reducing company tax is a case for Australian workers. Every other Labor leader—including the honourable member opposite—has understood this. The member for McMahon has written a whole book about it. The fundamental question is one of competitiveness: do you want Australian businesses to be competitive? If they're not competitive, they won't be successful. In order to be competitive, they have to have a competitive tax rate. The United States has moved down to 21 per cent. France has gone to 25 per cent. The UK's below 20 per cent. Are we seriously going to maintain the proposition that Australian businesses will be competitive in a global environment with the highest company tax in the OECD? Plainly, every other Labor leader has recognised that. Paul Keating, the former Prime Minister, said it himself, and I'll just conclude with this quote from this 1993 policy speech:

We lowered the company tax rate from 39 per cent to 33, providing Australian industry with a business tax system competitive with any in the world—

as it was at the time. He went on to say:

This is where the energy will come from. And we will do everything we can to stimulate it and, where necessary, provide strategic support.

That was the Labor Party of Paul Keating and Bob Hawke. The Labor Party of the member for Maribyrnong is one denying economic reality, built on the politics of envy and trying to divide Australians rather than unite them. Successful Labor leaders have united Australians, and they've done so on the basis of optimism and aspiration. They haven't sought to divide them on the basis of envy.