Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Treasury Legislation Amendment (Repeal Day 2015) Bill 2015; Second Reading
It raised a little bit. It was only a smidgen of what Labor said it would raise—I think it was about $126 million—but there were billions overspent and promised. There were billions of dollars promised to be put into programs, grants and projects, but they had no hope of being funded by a scheme which raised just a smidgen of the money that Labor had promised. They promised rivers of cash from the mining tax which never materialised into much at all. The member for Canberra knows that. I know that she understands deep down the fact that we need a strong economy. I know that she understands that we need Australian agriculture to fire.
Getting back on to my foreign investment bandwagon, because it is close to my heart, I am so pleased that the new foreign investment regime, which is a robust one, comes into force today. Today is a red-letter day: not only are we getting rid of red tape but the new foreign investment regime also comes into force with stronger penalties for investors who breach the residential real estate rules and with existing criminal penalties being increased to $135,000 or three years imprisonment, or both, for individuals and up to $675,000 for companies. It is important for people who live in those metropolitan areas to know that there is going to be housing for young people—the big Australian dream is to own your own home—and it is important also for Australian agriculture that it gives farmers the certainty and surety that agricultural land, prime farmland, is not going to be gobbled up by companies who will come and take the land. The alternative proposal is to lift the foreign investment threshold at which the Foreign Investment Review Board looks at these matters, which is $15 million cumulative for farmland and $55 million for agribusiness. What do Labor want to do? What does the member for Hunter want to do? The threshold will be $1,000 million. That is the against the national interest.
I do not mind if Labor wants to put 'National Party' in lower case; I could not care less. They should be putting in capital letters the national interest. They should be applying the national interest test to everything they do, but they do not. They do not support their own savings measures. They talked about them when they were in power for six sorry years. They talked about them in government and they just blocked them when they got into opposition. Hopefully they will be in opposition for a long time to come, because Australia needs a coalition government with the Liberals and the Nationals working collaboratively together to boost the economy, to boost innovation—as the Prime Minister often talks about—and to boost productivity. We are repealing that redundant red tape—and, dare I say, green tape—legislation and over-burdensome regulatory laws that are in power. That is what this legislation is doing. I urge the Labor Party to get on board with us and help this country.