House debates

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Technology Companies

2:04 pm

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister outline to the House how the Morrison government is ensuring big technology companies operate in line with Australian laws and values, and why this is important to Australia's future?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Sturt for his question. He knows, like I do and, I think, all of us in this place do, that big tech companies may be changing the world but they shouldn't run it. They should be subject to the rule of law in the nations in which they operate. But, importantly, nations must stand up for themselves when it comes to that rule of law and how it must apply to those big tech companies. Under our government, that's exactly what Australia has done.

Over many years now, Australia has been taking forward these matters. I can go back to Treasurer Hockey, through the G20 process with the base erosion and profit-shifting tax measures to take seriously the issue of ensuring that multinationals and particularly big technology companies pay more tax and pay their fair share of tax. Those laws were passed by this parliament with the support of this government and were actually opposed by the Labor Party at the time.

On top of that, though, we initiated in 2017, when I was Treasurer, a groundbreaking review by the ACCC. This was the most significant look into the global market power of big technology companies that we had seen. These are the issues that we have been advocating in global forums, on anti-trust and competition laws, not just on taxation laws, to ensure we hold the big technology companies and large multinationals to account.

We've introduced tougher tax laws and given our tax office greater powers than they've ever had before in relation to these companies. We've pursued the low-threshold arrangements for companies like Amazon. They left in protest and they came crawling back, because our government held its ground. We have taken up globally the issue of the takedown of terrorists and extreme content on social media platforms, and we have led the world through that process with many other partners, including New Zealand and Canada, who I acknowledge.

But, on this particular issue, we are not going to let big technology companies take a free ride on our free press. That's not what we're going to allow, and we haven't allowed that. The measures we've introduced in this place and holding these companies to account shows the strength of resolve of our government to stand up for the things that are important to Australians, those values of a free press which are so essential to our democracy. Australia has led the world in standing up for itself, standing up for the rule of law and standing up for citizens and free people to ensure that big technology companies get the message, make the changes and adhere to the laws of free democracies.