House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Matters of Public Importance


3:48 pm

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

I'm delighted to hear the member for Fairfax announce on behalf of the Liberal and National parties they're there for lower taxes. I'm delighted to hear they are going to stand for workers against higher taxes. And, therefore, I assume the honourable member is going to cross the floor and vote against the increase in income taxes that his government is proposing on every Australian earning more than $21,000. It's very Churchillian. They're going to take the money out of the pockets of individuals. Yes, they are. They want higher taxes on Australians who earn between $21,000 and $87,000 a year—teachers and nurses.

This side of the House stands for lower taxes and that side of the House stands for taxing them more. The Prime Minister told the House today how much he admires childcare workers. Perhaps he could show that admiration by not taxing them more. Put aside their very legitimate industrial relations concerns, maybe he could start with not taxing them more.

This week says it all about the values of this coalition government. There are 694 days since the last federal budget, and the next sitting day will be budget day. It says it all about this government that they've spent all their time trying to get a $65 billion corporate tax cut through the other House, at the same time as proposing a $44 billion tax rise on Australians—working Australians earning between $21,000 and $87,000 a year. A childcare worker earning $45,000 a year, not a generous sum, they want to tax $225 a year. With a deficit of $23 billion what they want to do is give away a corporate tax cut and tax Australians more, working Australians. So we'll have no lectures about tax from this mob over here. They don't believe in lower tax; they believe in different tax. They believe in taxing working Australians more and they believe in taxing business less. That's what they believe in.

The other thing is those opposite love a good scare campaign. The Prime Minister's never happier than when he can launch a scare campaign. He's not very good at it—he's no Tony Abbott—but he still likes to try. The other thing they've done is launch their defence of the dividend imputation refundability policy. What they believe in is a system that no other country in the world has. What they believe in is a system in which people who own shares and who have paid no income tax should be paid a refund even though they haven't paid that tax. That's their big driving philosophy. That's what they believe. They believe that the budget emergency is so bad, that the debt and deficit disaster is so bad, that we should spend $6 billion a year sending refunds to people who haven't paid tax.

Let us deal once and for all with this double taxation nonsense. The government says it's double taxation. They would be right if the Labor Party were proposing to tax dividends. If we were proposing to say, 'If you receive $10,000 or $20,000 worth of dividends, we will tax you at your marginal rate or we'll tax you at some special rate,' but that is not what is being proposed. Take the government's theory to its natural conclusion. Let's just live in a world for a moment where the shares in Australia are all owned by people over 65 who pay no tax and who have tax-free superannuation. The company paid—those companies that do pay tax—its tax rate and then distributed its dividends to its shareholders, retirees. Then, under this government's model, they sent a refund for all that tax paid to the shareholders. How much money would be raised from Australia's companies? Zero. It's their model of taxation in Australia—absolutely no tax paid under their model.

Not only is Australia the only country in the world with fully refundable dividend imputation, most tax concessions are not refundable. If you're a tradie you can claim your expenses and you can reduce your taxable income, but once you're down to zero you don't get negative income tax. You don't get sent a cheque by the government. Malcolm Turnbull will defend the right of some of Australia's wealthiest investors to the death to get their tax refunds even if they haven't paid tax. Is he going to extend the same right to Australia's workers, to Australia's tradies? I don't think so. I'm not going to hold my breath for that to happen, because this Prime Minister knows whose side he's on, we'll give him that. We know whose side he's on. And we know whose side we're on and we're on the side of fairness in the tax system. We don't mind a fight when it comes to fairness and we'll fight this right up to the election. (Time expired)


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