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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4906

Mr SIMPKINS (Cowan) (16:13): Whilst I do not take my instructions from the member for Oxley—

Mr Ripoll interjecting

Mr SIMPKINS: I am wiser than that, I can assure you. But I do welcome the opportunity to speak on bills such as this, the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2012 Measures No. 1) Bill 2012. The previous speaker from the coalition side made clear that it was not our intention to oppose this bill, because this bill makes a series of changes to existing taxation and superannuation laws. There are seven schedules in this bill and I will go through each of them fairly briefly. Schedule 1 refers to GST-free health supplies and preserves the original policy intention of the GST act that certain suppliers of health related goods and services are to be GST free when they involve multiparty arrangements for an insurer or a government entity.

Schedule 2 addresses the GST treatment of appropriations whereby noncommercial activities of government related entities are not subject to GST.

With regard to schedule 3, this will continue a pause in indexation of concessional caps so that it will remain fixed at $25,000 up to and including the 2013-14 financial year. This schedule in my view continues the attack by the government on Australians that are trying to provide for their retirement. In government, the coalition will look to revisit the levels of concessional contribution caps and co-contributions schemes, obviously, if and when the budget is in a strong enough position to afford it.

When we talk about the importance of superannuation, I think it is often similar to what I say in the schools of the electorate of Cowan, which is that both sides of politics in this country believe in making this country the best it can be. It is the way in which we get there which is the difference between the two sides. When we look at things like concessional caps, it is something like an article of faith: if someone wants to support themselves and remove themselves as a net taker or a net user of government support through superannuation that should be the case and it should be supported. If someone has worked hard throughout their lives and accumulated assets and wealth, we should give that person the best opportunity to, again, not be a net user, not be a taker of government services but remain a contributor. If they can put more away for their superannuation and not become a burden on the taxpayer, then that is what should occur.

We should not see those that have worked hard, those that have accumulated assets, as a target for increased taxation but rather as people who we do not need to worry about in the future and that the taxpayers do not need to worry about. Those that are in need of government support are the ones that can receive that support as opposed to just targeting those that have worked very hard, made some very good decisions and accumulated assets. We should be trying to make sure that they put enough away for their own superannuation.

With regard to schedule 4, this refers to the refund of excess concessional contributions on superannuation. The relief provided by this amendment is a one-off and would not apply where a taxpayer has made excess contributions on any previous occasion on or after 1 July 2012.

Schedule 5 permits the Australian tax office to disclose details of an individual's superannuation interests and superannuation benefits to a regulator of a superannuation fund or public sector superannuation scheme, an approved deposit fund, retirement savings account provider or their administrators. The coalition supports moves to consolidate superannuation accounts but has a number of concerns that will be carefully examined by the House economics inquiry into the bill and will consider any necessary amendments arising from the committee's final report.

The amendments included in schedule 6 will require employers to report on payslips any information prescribed in the regulations about superannuation contributions.

Schedule 7 aims to provide the Commissioner of Taxation with a legislative discretion to withhold entitlements to high-risk refund integrity checks of the taxpayer's claim. The coalition believes that allowing the Commissioner of Taxation some discretion to hold back suspicious claims pending verification checks is a worthwhile initiative; however, if this discretion is applied too broadly, it has the potential to impact on the cash flow of small businesses that are not acting fraudulently.

Without doubt, the coalition does not oppose this bill; however, we must make a comment on and express a concern about the high-taxing and the high-spending agenda that the government does pursue. Since coming to power, the government has inflicted 26 new or increased taxes on Australians. Certainly, with regards to Western Australia, a $2.5 billion tax grab at the expense of the North West Shelf gas project, the carbon tax and the mining tax, are just a few examples and, as we know, the carbon tax was ruled out by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer before the 2010 election and then brought back after all the deals were done with the Greens and Independents. The world's biggest carbon tax which is set to begin on 1 July will hit all Australians, yet deliver no environmental benefits.

As I said before, the mining tax is another example of the government treating WA like a cash cow. According to Dr Henry, 65 per cent of the mining tax will come from Western Australia. I urge this government to view WA as more than just a big mine but the principal foundation of our economic strength. One thing that amazes me is that despite all this taxing, this government still cannot manage the books. The government inherited $22 billion of surplus and $70 billion of net assets. What has become of this? It has now turned into $167 billion of accumulated deficits. This equates to $4,878 of debt per taxpayer. To pay for this debt, the Labor government is still borrowing $100 million every day and the interest payments on their debt will be running in excess of $20 million a day by 2014-15.

So residents in my electorate of Cowan are sick of this government introducing new taxes in a bid to get more money to make up for their waste and mismanagement. They are sick of their hard-earned money being collected by a government whose mentality is to tax and spend. Labor's solution to every problem is to tax it and increase the costs for Australians. I have never heard of a government that has successfully taxed its way towards higher economic growth. The reality is that this government needs to learn to live within its means. It is showing that it is both lazy and incompetent by simply increasing and introducing new taxes rather than going through the proper processes to make our tax system more efficient and to make our economy more competitive. In spite of this government's strong belief, going for easy tax grabs is clearly not a viable long-term solution. As I said earlier, the coalition does not oppose this bill, however we continue to have serious concerns regarding this government's high-taxing, high-spending agenda.