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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 2938

Senator SMITH (Western AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (16:19): Well, it's a little bit off topic, but can I just start this afternoon by congratulating Dr Mahathir on his magnificent victory in Malaysia. Dr Mahathir will become the world's oldest leader, at the age of 92. I think he'll bring great wisdom and great experience to the role in Malaysia. Anyone who's interested in the politics of Malaysia—and perhaps the recent politics of Malaysia, without dwelling on it too much—can't but be impressed by the victory. I had the pleasure of being in Dr Mahathir's company in January 2017 at his home with his wife, and I was greatly honoured to hear his vision for Malaysia but importantly also his vision for the Asian region.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Marshall ): Senator Smith, the indulgence is probably now getting to an end.

Senator SMITH: And I know you're a generous man, so I will just make one last point, and that is that Dr Mahathir has given a pledge to uphold the rule of law and, importantly, to prosecute those that have breached it. I think that's an ominous sign for some who have engaged in less than decent practices across Malaysia, and indeed internationally, in recent times.

But that brings me to the topic du jour, and that is, of course, the federal budget. And I'm spoilt with choice—I don't know where to start! I don't know whether I should start with sharing with Liberals across Australia why this is a budget that they can be proud of—indeed, why it's a budget that fiscal conservatives can be proud of. I don't know whether or not I should start by talking about why the budget is a significant win for Western Australia. You're right, Senator Molan: while it's not a fix for the GST problem in Western Australia, it's a very, very good budget, a strong budget, that Western Australians can be very, very proud of. Perhaps I should just start by quoting back to Labor what it has said itself about the importance of company tax cuts.

You're right, Senator Molan; I think I'll start at the end. I think I will start by sharing with Senator Keneally, Senator Moore and Senator Urquhart what it is exactly that Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition, himself has had to say about the importance of company tax cuts.

Senator Bartlett interjecting

Senator SMITH: I'm disappointed, Senator Bartlett, that I have only 2½ minutes to go, because I have three pages. So let me start from the top.

What did Bill Shorten say to the House of Representatives on 23 August 2011? Let me remind you:

Cutting the company income tax rate increases domestic productivity and domestic investment. More capital means higher productivity and economic growth and leads to more jobs and higher wages.

That's convincing for me. So what did Mr Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition, say in a speech to the Australian Council of Social Services National Conference on 30 March in that same year, 2011? He said:

Reducing the corporate tax rate … sees more capital flowing into our domestic economy, which will then flow on to workers in the form of higher wages—thereby improving standards of living.

I know; I know. There is more. What did Bill Shorten say in an interview on Sky with Kieran Gilbert on 12 March 2012? He said: 'Friends, corporate tax reform helps Australia's private sector grow and it creates jobs right up and down the income ladder.' What did Bill Shorten say when he addressed the Institute of Chartered Accountants on 6 April 2011? He said:

The Government's tax reform agenda has a strong focus on ensuring that Australia remains an attractive place to invest.

…   …   …

Cutting the company tax rate is an important step along this road.

This recognises the benefits to investment and growth from lower company tax rates and a trend to lower rates across the OECD over the past 30 years.

Let's go to Julia Gillard. What did Julia Gillard say? We will cast our minds back a little bit further to show that cutting corporate tax rates is as much in the DNA of the Australian Labor Party as it is in the coalition's. Julia Gillard said in March 2012 to the House of Representatives:

If you are against cutting company tax, you are against economic growth. If you are against economic growth, then you are against jobs.

It is worth repeating: 'If you are against economic growth, then you are against jobs.' It's convincing, I know. (Time expired)