Thursday, 11 May 2017
Questions without Notice
To deal with some of the matters, including the ones raised by the Leader of the Opposition: the government's tax plan, which delivers the incentive in our economy for businesses to invest in the country, including attracting foreign capital to invest, which deals with the matter the member opposite has raised, is also subject, over the medium term, to a tax-to-GDP cap of 23.9 per cent. What I am suggesting to the opposition, in how this measure is funded, is that our government is also committed over the medium term to ensuring that our tax-to-GDP rate remains below 23.9 per cent.
But the question that the opposition leader has to answer tonight is will he commit to the same thing, or will he allow taxes as a share of the economy to grow and grow and grow and grow? He has already spoken on the subject of tax, which he has raised in his question—on tax issues he has raised in his question. He has also made some bleatings about the deficit levy. I remind the Leader of the Opposition, and I particularly remind the shadow Treasurer on this issue, that he said—
The Treasurer will resume his seat. Just before I recognise the Leader of the Opposition—
Ms Plibersek interjecting—
The member for Sydney, on cue, interjects—and for those interjecting: those who interject persistently are going to be dealt with. I have given fair warning. A couple have gone already. Do not be surprised if you interject and you are out of the chamber straight away. The Leader of the Opposition on a point of order.
On relevance: I simply asked the Prime Minister or the Treasurer—in fact, anyone over there—if they could answer how much of the $65 billion corporate tax break is going to foreign shareholders, full stop.
I point out to the Leader of the Opposition, as I have to many others making points of order on relevance, that the question had a preamble. It did have a specific question. The Treasurer is on the policy topic. He is in order. The questioner cannot demand that the minister answering the question answer it in the way they would like them to. He is on the policy topic, and he has the call.
So the Leader of the Opposition needs to confirm if he will commit to the 23.9 per cent tax-to-GDP cap. Will he confirm that he will reverse $29.8 billion in small- and medium-sized business tax cuts? Will he reverse those and will he increase taxes on small businesses tonight and, as a result, cost jobs in small business around the country? And will he go back and, in particular, will the shadow Treasurer go back on his word when he said in relation to cutting the personal income tax rates that were put up with the deficit levy in 2014-15:
We don't like it and we don't support it.
Paul Keating … started the process of reducing those marginal tax rates to make us more competitive as a nation in a globalised world. That's the direction we should be heading in.
So the question for the Leader of the Opposition tonight is: is he going to go in the opposite direction to that which Paul Keating said the country should go in?
He has already said that they want to go in a different direction on company tax than the one which Paul Keating said they should go in. Tonight, is he going to commit to lower taxes or do what the Labor Party always does and jack up taxes? There are only two groups that seem to be unhappy when it comes to the government's budget: the Labor Party and the big banks.