House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Questions without Notice


2:40 pm

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

My question is to the Prime Minister. The leaked draft statement from the Business Council reveals that big business refuses to commit to increased wages when the conditions are right. When big business won't even commit to increasing wages 'when the conditions are right', why is the Prime Minister so committed to giving big business a $65 billion tax cut?

Photo of Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull (Wentworth, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I quoted the member for Sydney's heroine Julia Gillard on this subject when she said: 'If you're against cutting company tax, you're against economic growth.' And if you're against economic growth and you're against jobs—and we know she is a great admirer, as is the member for McMahon, of the former Labor Prime Minister and very distinguished Treasurer, Paul Keating. Of course his experience was, after many years in that job, that lowering company tax—as he did, very substantially—resulted in more investment, higher productivity, more jobs and higher wages. That was the consistent experience.

But there was one other great saying of Paul Keating that the honourable member for McMahon would remember, and that is: in the great race of life you should always back self-interest, because it's trying. The reality is the reason businesses invest more and employ more and pay higher wages when there's more economic growth is because they want to make a profit. In other words, you give business the incentive to get ahead, you give business the ability to be competitive, and then it will get going and do so. Paul Keating could see that. Julia Gillard could see that.

There were days when the member for McMahon could see it. But it's all got a bit cloudy now in the rear-vision mirror. He can't recall—that much admired book up there, being remaindered away—and neither can the Leader of the Opposition recall what he said in the House. The member for Lilley is entirely obliterated from his memory—the 2010 budget, although there are other compassionate reasons to do that, so we shouldn't perhaps go on too much about it.

The bottom line is very clear. You give business the incentive to get ahead, and they will do so and hire and invest. We want Australian businesses to get ahead and compete and win. That's why we back free trade deals, whereas Labor opposes them. Remember the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement? The Leader of the Opposition said it was all dead. It was a vanity project. Do you know what? There are thousands of jobs in Australia that will be created by Australian businesses because of that free trade agreement. Just as there have been by other free trade agreements that we succeeded in negotiating. We know that right now thousands of jobs, in fact over 1,100 a day, are being created in Australia in large measure because of the enthusiasm of Australian small and medium family businesses who have had the encouragement of our corporate tax cuts so far. We want that right across the economy—more economic growth, more jobs. The Labor Party has forgotten economics.