Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister update the House on how the government's plan for a competitive and resilient economy is an important part of our foreign policy agenda? What are the risks associated with alternative approaches?
I thank the member for Forrest for her question. She is a champion of small and medium enterprises and businesses in her electorate. Australia is facing an increasingly competitive world. We're more economically integrated. There is greater interdependence through technology and global supply chains. The Australian economy is strong. Under coalition policies, we've created an environment that has seen a record number of one million jobs since we came into government, and a thousand new jobs are being created every day. And we are the fastest growing economy in the OECD, at 3.1 per cent per annum, and we are in our 27th consecutive year of uninterrupted economic growth.
But none of this can be taken for granted. That's why the coalition government has an economic plan to keep Australia's economy strong and resilient. In recent meetings with foreign ministers, during the winter break, the issue of business competitiveness was a key theme—backing the private sector to create job opportunities in countries around the world. Indeed, at our foreign and defence ministers' meetings in the UK and in the US, global economic security was a key theme. The new foreign secretary of the UK, Jeremy Hunt, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both spoke of the global trend of reducing taxes around the world and backing the private sector so that companies in their countries, and of course in ours, can compete on a level playing field. The United States now has a tax rate of 21 per cent for businesses. The UK has a tax rate for businesses of about 19 per cent, going down to 17 per cent. That's why the coalition government's economic plan is to lower taxes for business, to drive electricity prices down and to pursue free trade agreements for new markets so that we can compete on the world stage.
I'm asked whether there are any risks. Oh yeah, there are risks: the sheer lunacy of the Labor Party's thinking on taxes and costs. The Labor Party believes in higher taxes—in fact, $200 billion of extra taxes. What does $200 billion in extra taxes do for Australia's competitiveness? They want to increase taxes on small and medium enterprises with a turnover under $50 million. We just won't be able to compete. And Labor, we find, believes that higher electricity prices is a sign of market success. No-one in the world believes that having higher electricity prices makes you more competitive. That's why the coalition is backing Australian workers, backing Australian business, because that means more jobs across the country.