Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister: The leaked draft statement from the Business Council reveals that big business refused to commit to 'create more Australian jobs in the cities, suburbs, towns and bush'. When big business won't commit to creating more jobs in the cities, suburbs, towns and bush, why is the Prime Minister so committed to giving big business a $65 billion tax handout?
The member must be completely unaware of the statements by Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas; Robb Scott, the CEO of Wesfarmers; Russell Zimmerman from the Australian Retailers Association; Peter Coleman, the CEO of Woodside; and Alison Watkins, the managing director of Coca-Cola Amatil. These are just some of the very large companies that employ tens—hundreds—of thousands of Australians, who have committed and have been out there making very clear this very simple principle: if you make business not pay as much money to the government, they're in a much better position to give workers a pay rise.
The Labor Party are standing between workers in this country and a pay rise because they think businesses should pay the government more rather than pay their employees more. That's what Labor think. They think that the best way to increase wages in this country is to make businesses pay the government more. The member for Fenner this week actually put out research that he says he did himself which shows that, if you put higher taxes on businesses, you get higher wages and you get higher economic growth. Well, let's put it up to 35! Let's put it up to 40! Why not 45? The Labor Party believe the higher you tax the economy, the better the economy goes. What sorts of morons must they be listening to to think that this is good economic policy? I think the Leader of the Opposition and, in particular, the shadow Treasurer have somehow departed from the common sense they once understood earlier in their lives.
We saw it most recently in an article in the Australian Financial Review where the shadow Treasurer was profiled. There he was with that pensive look in front of his voluminous bookcase with the hand on the chin, looking up, and he said: 'My own one great regret when I was at university, getting all of those high distinctions'—he happened to mention, very modest of him—'I just wish I'd gone out and partied more.' The shadow Treasurer must have been partying for the last three years, because he hasn't come up with a good idea in that entire time. He has been sitting around posing for photos. I love this one. How good's that! Aren't you a pretty boy, Zoolander!
My question is to the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services. Will the minister update the House on the importance of ensuring taxation policies are sensible and well designed? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches that pose a threat to the prosperity of hardworking Australians, including in my electorate of Grey?
I thank the member for Grey, and I note how hard he is working and advocating for his constituents. He recognises, as does the government, that we need to protect the prosperity of Australians and that every policy we pursue should be aimed at protecting that prosperity. A very crucial part of that is to design sensible policies that alleviate the tax burden acting as a handbrake on our economy. This government has cut taxes for small and medium-sized enterprises. We have relieved the tax burden on middle-income Australians, three million of whom will not pay higher taxes, as a result of our increase in the tax threshold. We remain committed to doing even more for those people.
The contrast with those opposite could not be clearer. They have proudly announced their intention to take a $200 billion tax sledgehammer to the incomes, livelihoods and prosperity of millions of Australians. That will directly impact upon our economy. Not only are they doing that but they are also doing it in a completely unfair and illogical way. Take their retiree tax 1.0, originally announced and lauded by the shadow Treasurer as carefully designed, despite the fact that it robbed hundreds of thousands of pensioners of their tax refunds. Now they have relaunched it as retiree tax 2.0, and again have fallen over each other to say how carefully designed and progressive it is. As was the case the first time around, it's all spin and no substance. It will punish people on middle and lower incomes.
Under their policy, someone on a $500,000-a-year salary who also receives hundreds of thousands of dollars of franking credits wouldn't be impacted at all. The total benefit of their tax already paid would offset their tax liability. What about an elderly, self-funded retiree with $18,000 in taxable income a year, including $2,300 in dividends, who has paid tax all their life? The Labor Party, under their policy, will pocket their $700 tax refund. Their policy does not make sense. Their policy will affect 875,000 retirees, wage-earners and even pensioners who dare to put their money into self-managed super funds from tomorrow onwards. Their retiree tax 2.0 is no better than 1.0. It is like putting mag wheels, a spoiler and a speed stripe on a Hyundai Excel. It's no good. Australians know it, and they know they can't trust this Leader of the Opposition with their money. (Time expired)
My question is to the Prime Minister. The leaked draft statement from the Business Council reveals that big business wouldn't even commit to 'increase wages when the conditions are right'. Given that over the last two years wages have grown by only four per cent while company profits have increased by 32 per cent, has the Prime Minister had any discussions with big business about just how much more profit they need before they will give a fair share to their workers?
The honourable member knows very well, since he put this question to me—or a question along the same lines—earlier in the week, that over the last year we've seen company profits and wages rise by approximately the same amount. Over the last six years, wages have risen considerably more than company profits. The figure he is using has been cherrypicked to take advantage of a spike in earnings because of the commodity boom.
Ms Butler interjecting—
The honourable member is an economist. He understands very well the principles in the 2010 budget papers. He knows very well the Treasury analysis that in 2010 said a one per cent cut in company tax would add 0.4 per cent to GDP.
The honourable member can interject as much as he likes, but the reality is that the same Treasury that advised his boss, the member for Lilley, Treasurer at the time, that it would add $450 into the pockets of Australian workers has given the analysis that says the company tax plan we are taking through to the Senate will deliver $750 into Australian workers' pockets. It's exactly the same analysis, probably by the same analysts. There was a time when the Labor Party understood and adhered to economic orthodoxy. It has all been thrown away in this chase after the savings of pensioners and self-funded retirees.
To give the honourable members opposite the latest dispatch from their class war, I remind them of what Margaret Sykes, a lady in her 70s, said to me this morning. She said: 'My husband worked five jobs as a young man to make sure we were self-reliant when we were older. He died in 2010, still working, but said before he died that he worked so hard to make sure I was looked after. I'm a self-funded retiree. I have shares to supplement my income. I'm not one of Bill Shorten's millionaires. I don't go on holidays, smoke, drink or dine out; just a person who is not dependent upon Centrelink.' They are the people the Labor Party is after.