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Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Page: 6094

Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (19:04): I move Greens amendment (1) on sheet 8491:

(1) Schedule 1, page 4 (after line 2), at the end of the Schedule, add:

12 After subsection 328 -180(5)


Assets costing less than $30,000—assets relating to energy efficiency or clean energy

(5A) Paragraph 328-180(1) (b) of the IncomeTaxAssessmentAct1997applies to a depreciating asset as if a reference in that paragraph to $1,000 were a reference to $30,000, if:

(a) you first acquired the asset at or after the 2015 budget time; and

(b) you first use the asset, or have it installed ready for use, for a taxable purpose after 30 June 2018; and

(c) you first use the asset, or have it installed ready for use, in connection with:

   (i) investing in energy efficiency;

   (ii) reducing your use of fossil fuels; or

(iii) fuel switching from gas to electricity.

(5B) Paragraph 328-180(2) (a) or (3) (a) of the IncomeTaxAssessmentAct1997applies to an amount included in the second element of the cost of an asset as if a reference in that paragraph to $1,000 were a reference to $30,000, if:

(a) the amount is so included at any time after 30 June 2018; and

(b) paragraph (5A) (c) of this section applies to the asset.

As I outlined during my second reading speech, this is an amendment that would encourage small businesses to invest in energy efficiency, to invest in reducing their use of fossil fuels and in fuel switching from gas to electricity. This would create a new write-off scheme with a $30,000 expenditure limit to be available only to small businesses who invested that money in a way that fit the criteria I just outlined.

Before I resume my seat, there is a brief opportunity here for me, because it is relevant to this amendment, to respond to some of the comments that Senator Seselja made when he was summing up on the second reading speech. It's worth pointing out to Senator Seselja—who I am confident to assert is not an expert in Tasmanian politics or else he wouldn't have made the comments that he did—that Tasmania does have the most export exposed economy out of any state in Australia. That would be surprising to some because, intuitively, many people, I'm sure, would think that Western Australia had the most export exposed economy, given the quantity of its mineral resources. But anyone who thinks that would be wrong. Tasmania has the most export exposed economy in the country. That's as a result of not only significant exports of minerals and other resources that are mined or dug up or chopped down in Tasmania but also because tourism is, in effect, an export industry. Certainly, in the way that export accounts are conducted, it is regarded as an export industry.

When you think about that, and you think about the fact that during the four years of the Labor-Green government that I was a part of in Tasmania, the Australian dollar sat at or above parity with the US dollar, you'll begin to understand some of the challenges that faced Tasmania at the time. It's worth pointing out that since the Hodgman Liberal government came to power in 2014, in Tasmania, within three months of them coming to power the Australian dollar had dropped about 30 per cent relative to the US dollar and has sat around the 70c mark, or perhaps at times slightly over, during the entire time of the Hodgman Liberal government. And as everyone, I'm sure, in this place would understand, when the Australian dollar is so high it is places and states that are highly export exposed that struggle more than those that are not so export exposed.

It's also worth pointing out, and this information is available to anyone who's interested in it, that in the last nine to 12 months of the Labor-Green government—that would be the second half of 2013 and the early months of 2014—unemployment was falling significantly in Tasmania and employment rates were rising. We now have a situation where a lot of the significant boom in the Tasmanian economy is coming about because of the long-term work of the Greens and tens of thousands of Tasmanians who voted, worked, rallied and campaigned for wilderness protection in Tasmania, which is now by a long way the main reason that people make a decision to visit our state.

I know that MONA and the broad range of cultural activities that happen in Tasmania are significant attractants, but when you ask people why they come to Tasmania, overwhelmingly—by some margin—they will tell you it's the wilderness that attracts them there. And why is the wilderness still there? Why is it protected?

It is because of the work of the Australian Greens, the Tasmanian Greens, tens of thousands of Tasmanians and millions of Australians who over the past few decades have voted to protect the wilderness in our state that now underpins so much of the prosperity that we are seeing. Companies across a wide range of areas, from breweries to winemakers to cheesemakers to tourism companies—right across the spectrum—are actually using that wilderness to underpin their brand and to advertise their products to the world.

So, I'm not going to sit here and cop lectures from ignoramuses like Senator Seselja, who doesn't know what he's talking about, in relation to Tasmania. I'm proud of the role the Greens have played in our state, and I'm very proud of the role the Greens have played to protect wilderness in Tasmania. We will keep defending the wilderness against the troglodytes in the Liberal Party who don't understand the value of anything unless they can put a dollar sign in front of it, who right now want to put luxury lodges into the Walls of Jerusalem National Park and who are bending the rules of our World Heritage area and signing off on developments like the Lake Malbena development, which will actually kill the goose that's laid the golden egg for Tasmania.

The Greens are going to fight to defend our wilderness, and we're going to do it for a range of reasons, including the fact that it has intrinsic value, the fact that it has carbon value, the fact that it's a crucial, critical part of our Tasmanian brand and the fact that it actually underpins a lot of the success of our tourism industry and allows for jobs and prosperity to be generated. So, as I said, we are moving this amendment in order to assist small business to play a meaningful role in reducing emissions in this country to encourage them to invest more in clean green assets, in clean green technology, and to encourage and incentivise them to invest more in order to bring their costs down, which will help the bottom line of many small businesses in Australia. I truly hope the Senate supports our amendment.