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Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Page: 6093


Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital TerritoryAssistant Minister for Treasury and Finance) (18:57): It's great to conclude debate on this very, very important bill, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Accelerated Depreciation for Small Business Entities) Bill 2018. I won't spend a lot of time responding, but I want to thank everyone for their contributions, even Senator Cameron, who I am not sure talked about the bill but talked about a lot of other things. Indeed, I wanted to think Senator McKim for his contribution, because Senator McKim was talking about his record when they had a Labor-Greens government in Tasmania and how much they loved small business. Well, I can tell you that small business did not love the Labor-Greens government—that is for sure.

I was reminded what the business community thought of the Labor-Greens government and their war on business. The March 2014 census business index found that business support for the former Labor-Greens government was the lowest in the country. In fact, 66 per cent or two-thirds of businesses—I would think that would be a lot of small businesses, because they make up most of the businesses in Tasmania—believed Labor and the Greens were working against them. There is no doubt about it. So that was the Greens' record on small businesses. They were out to get them. They launched a war on business which led to a recession in Tasmania, massive youth unemployment and massive unemployment across the board as businesses were attacked by the Labor Party and the Greens. So, just responding briefly to Senator McKim, that's been the Greens' record and, of course, their policies flow on from that.

Alternatively the coalition have in our DNA support for small business. We support particularly small and medium enterprises in so many ways, and this bill is another way in which we are supporting small and medium enterprises in this country. Some of the ways we have done that, of course, are with small business tax cuts across the board—significant tax cuts that we have delivered in the face of opposition from the Labor Party and others—the instant asset write-off, which we're talking about and extending through this discussion tonight, and red tape relief across the board.

Senator Smith eloquently talked about union thuggery. So many businesses suffer from that, particularly in the construction sector but also in other areas, where we see those unions' standover tactics. So we've worked very hard, particularly in the construction sector, with the ABCC and through other measures, to make sure that small and medium businesses don't have to face that kind of thuggery from the CFMMEU, which we've seen illustrated so many times.

On fairer competition laws, small businesses are getting a fair go through amendments to the competition law to stop big businesses from abusing market power, new unfair contract legislation and the establishment of a small business ombudsman. The coalition has a record of opening up free trade with other countries. When we open up free trade—as we have done with free trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea and with the TPP—it provides opportunities for Australians and businesses across the board, including thousands of small and medium enterprises around the country. The government recognises the importance of cash flow for small business, which is why we're setting an example by paying our bills on time, with 97 per cent of Australian government bills under $1 million being paid within 30 days. Cash flow is so important. I know that here in the ACT, where there are a lot of small and medium contractors who have contracts with the Commonwealth, cash flow is so critical to them, and we've delivered on that.

The alternative government, the Labor Party, have opposed so many of these measures. They opposed our small-business tax cuts. If the Labor Party were to come to office, they would reverse those small-business tax cuts that we have delivered for millions of Australian small businesses. The Labor Party would increase taxes. One of the first things they would do if they were to come into government is make small and medium enterprises in this country pay more tax so that they could employ fewer people, so that unemployment could go up and so that fewer Australians could have the dignity of a job. We've seen so many other examples where the Labor Party attack small business. They pretend that they don't, but their record is so clear, because, when it comes to a choice between their union masters and the interests of small and medium enterprise in this country, the Labor Party will always back their union paymasters.

It is a very, very important bill that we are debating today. This government does very much back business growth and investment. We have improved small businesses' competitiveness by lowering their tax rates through the legislated enterprise tax plan and the unincorporated tax discount. We've further extended concessions to small business by lifting the small-business entity turnover threshold to $10 million. As stated, this bill will continue to back small business by extending the $20,000 instant asset write-off by a further 12 months. This will allow small businesses to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets, each costing less than $20,000, which are first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 2019. This will improve cash flow by bringing forward tax deductions, providing a boost to small-business activity and encouraging more small businesses to reinvest in their operations and to replace or upgrade their assets. Just under 3.3 million small businesses with an annual turnover of less than $10 million are eligible for the $20,000 instant asset write-off. This is an initiative which I think has very strong and widespread support. We look forward to its passage through the Senate. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.