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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4365

Senator PRATT (Western Australia) (15:25): I also rise this afternoon to take note of questions asked of Senator Cormann by Senators Keneally, Singh, and Marshall. Day after day we see the Liberals and the coalition here in this place arguing for the Liberal good, not for the common good, which is really a misnomer of a campaign designed to paper over the public interest in this country in favour of massive $80 billion corporate tax cuts. What we saw from Senator Cormann was a complete failure to address the question asked by Senator Keneally about the false campaign that's being run to try to build a mandate for these ridiculous corporate tax cuts.

Centre Ground is clearly running what can be seen to be an astroturfing campaign that has no real community sentiment behind it—their campaign called the Common Good in support of corporate tax cuts in South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania. Senator Cormann did not address, in any way, Senator Keneally's question, which was seeking to address the BCA's decision to use a front group to run a phoney grassroots campaign. These are the efforts to which the coalition and the BCA are prepared to go to try and mount a pre-election campaign in support of something that is clearly not in Australia's national interest. What we have here is an $80 billion big-business company tax cut that will drive, as interjections have shown, a large structural hole in our budget. This would leave our nation bereft of opportunities to fund future government service delivery and would not guarantee new investment in really critical areas of our nation.

As the opposition has argued in relation to alternative ways of stimulating the economy, we've seen recent modelling from the Melbourne Economic Forum by Janine Dixon which shows that, compared to a company tax cut, an investment subsidy is actually up to three times more effective as a stimulus to investment. And this was certainly shown during the global financial crisis when Labor gave tax breaks for business-level investment. That significantly boosted growth in our nation at a critical time. Instead, we see false economics coming from those opposite who are more interested in the Liberal good and giving support to their mates at the big end of town.

It really is a wonder to me that Senator Cormann could not answer Senator Keneally's question about whether there were and are any shared tactics between the BCA and the coalition regarding this BCA campaign. And it's very, very clear that there is, given that the BCA has appointed a former Liberal Party director to its new political advisory board, has also hired former political party director Andrew Bragg as its executive director for members and has established this new front group to create a false idea of there being a real grassroots campaign in this nation.

When the Labor Party go out campaigning on these issues, we will be in step with real communities and real people, knocking on doors around this nation, raising our real concerns and having real conversations with Australians about what a false and ridiculous idea this $80 billion tax cut to Australian big business really is.