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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4356

Regional Australia

Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:54): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Regional Development, Senator Scullion. Minister, after hearing the facts that were just presented to us by Senator Cormann, can you outline how the coalition government is supporting more regional Australians into work, encouraging more regional Australians into business, and ensuring that more regional Australians can keep a greater share of their income?

Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:54): I thank the senator for that very important question. This government is focusing on supporting hardworking Australians and hardworking Australian businesses to grow and prosper, because that's how you grow the economy—just a tip, for the willing. Thanks to that, we have created a record 400,000 jobs. We're ensuring that businesses actually have the confidence to make sure that they reinvest. We're reducing the corporate tax rate so businesses can keep more of their own money and invest in the way that they know best. We're also investing in a $75 billion pipeline—nation-building, job-creating infrastructure. We're actually doing the jobs that a lot of successive governments have found a bit hard to do. We're taking on Inland Rail, Western Sydney Airport—and that means 50,000 jobs.

We know that economic growth is not reaching everyone. There are plenty of communities in regional and rural Australia that are still doing it tough. That's why we've committed $222 million to the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages, targeting the regions most in need in regional Australian projects. We've invested in 233 projects, leveraging private sector finance to support $685 million worth of jobs—11,000 jobs. More than 120,000 jobs have been created in regional communities—those communities of need.

But, unfortunately, this is all going to be at risk if those opposite get back into government. Their job-wrecking, reckless agenda of higher taxes and reckless spending is going to devastate this economy and those communities. Shorten's made his captain's call, jacking up taxes on business with a turnover of $10 billion and maybe even those with a $2 million turnover.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron on a point of order.

Senator Cameron: My point of order is that the Leader of the Opposition should be—

The PRESIDENT: Quite right, Senator Cameron. Senator Scullion, please refer to members of this and the other place by their appropriate title.

Senator SCULLION: The Leader of the Opposition will be a wrecking ball to the Australian economy!

The PRESIDENT: Senator Fawcett, a supplementary question.

Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:56): Can the minister advise the Senate why it's important that regional businesses have the confidence to invest in their communities and what the coalition government is doing to give all regional Australian businesses the confidence they need to invest in their business and in their communities to create more jobs?

Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:57): Those on this side—the majority of whom have been in small businesses—will understand how difficult it can be to start and grow a small business and the pressure that small business women and men have every day to pay wages and to pay the bills. Unfortunately, none of those opposite have had a lot of that experience. Mr Shorten's captain's call to raise taxes on businesses is going to hit very hard the 20,000 hardworking mum-and-dad businesses across the country. It is going to be a sledgehammer to regional economies right across Australia. There are 1.5 million Australians who are employed by these businesses who will be shuddering at the thought of another job-destroying, economy-wrecking captain's call from those opposite. That's not how you create confidence. It's not how you manage an economy. And that's not how you manage a guarantee for a better future for all Australians, particularly in places like Braddon, Mayo and Longman. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Fawcett, a final supplementary question.

Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:58): Can the minister advise the Senate why it is so critical that communities across Australia remain internationally competitive, and can he outline any threats posed to regional economies by alternative policy approaches?

Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:58): We need lower taxes if we're going to keep our businesses competitive. If you raise taxes, investment and opportunities go offshore. Mr Shorten's policies are, no doubt, a win, but they are only a win for businesses in the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan and China. In my former life as a commercial fisherman, we had a bit of a saying: 'A rising tide should lift all boats.' That's exactly why we need the full, legislated tax cuts for all Australian businesses. The activity between big business and small businesses is worth $555 billion a year. If we don't make our corporate tax rate more competitive, we will lose jobs in regional and remote Australia. I will just quote you a bit of a pearl of wisdom:

… any student of Australian business and economic history since the mid-1980s knows that part of Australia's success was derived through the reduction in the company tax rate.

That was from Mr Shorten. (Time expired)