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Tuesday, 11 August 2015
Page: 4929


Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:05): My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann, representing the Treasurer.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on both sides. Would you like to start again, Senator Reynolds?

Senator REYNOLDS: My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann, representing the Treasurer. Can the minister update the Senate on progress of the government's plan for stronger growth, more jobs and repairing the budget?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:07): I thank Senator Reynolds for that very important question. I am very pleased to inform Senator Reynolds and the Senate that we are continuing to successfully implement our long-term plan for stronger growth, for more jobs and to repair the budget. What we saw at the Labor Party national conference a few weeks ago was that the alternative government of Australia has no economic plan, no plan to strengthen growth, no plan to strengthen job creation and no plan to get government spending under control or to repair the budget.

Our economy today is stronger than it was when we came into government. More jobs are being created today than when we came into government. The most recent quarter of national accounts data, released earlier this year, shows that we have one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world—a faster-growing economy than any of the G7 countries. More than 330,000 new jobs have been created since we came into government, 163,000 new jobs since the beginning of this year—much better than when we came into government.

Despite global economic headwinds, our economic outlook is better than it would have been if the country had not changed direction after the defeat of the last Labor government, if we had not removed Labor's job-destroying carbon tax, if we had not removed Labor's job-destroying mining tax, if we had not reduced red-tape costs for business by more than $2 billion, if we had not rolled out our record infrastructure investment, if we had not finalised three new free trade agreements with key markets in our regions and if we had not embarked on the important task of getting government spending under control and getting the budget back into surplus.

Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:09): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister also inform the Senate why further tax reform is important to strengthen job growth and economic growth?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:09): Since we came into government, we have been engaged in very substantial tax reform. We abolished Labor's job-destroying carbon tax which made Australia less competitive internationally. We abolished Labor's investment- and job-destroying mining tax. We delivered a tax cut to small business, something that Labor continued to promise but never delivered. And of course we also promised that we would engage in a conversation with the Australian people about long-term tax reform priorities. As the Treasurer has indicated in various public statements in recent days, in Australia we have too heavy a reliance on income taxes. We have to have a conversation on how we can raise the necessary revenue to fund the necessary services of government in a better, more efficient, less distorting way, in a way that detracts the least amount possible from economic growth opportunities into the future. That is why the government is engaged actively in a conversation about a better tax system. (Time expired)

Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:10): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Will the minister also outline to the Senate any alternative policies and their implications for the economy and for Australian jobs?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:11): As I indicated in my primary answer, the alternative government has no economic plan, has no plan for jobs and has no plan to ensure that we put Australia on a stronger foundation for the future. Instead, Labor under Bill Shorten wants to bring back a carbon tax, and a carbon tax which is worse than the Gillard version of the carbon tax, one which would wipe more than $600 billion out of our economic growth over a 10-year period, one which would push up the cost of wholesale electricity by nearly 80 per cent, one which would cost jobs, one which would hurt our economy, one which would do nothing to help reduce emissions globally and one which would lead to a $200 a tonne carbon tax—unbelievable. Then we have got the Leader of the Opposition joining the outrageous, union-fuelled xenophobic attack on the critically important and historic agreement that Australia has engaged in and negotiated with China. (Time expired)