Senate debates

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers


3:09 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Cormann) to a question without notice asked by Senator Watt today relating to company tax cuts.

Yet again here in question time today we have seen senior members of the Turnbull government take the side of big business over working- and middle-class Australians. We've seen this time and time again from this government, proving that it is on the side of big business rather than the average Australian. They've done it on penalty rates, by failing to step in and failing to back Labor amendments which would have restored penalty rates to the hundreds of thousands of Australian workers who depend upon penalty rates to pay their bills and put food on the table. We've seen this government do absolutely nothing about the stagnant wages that we keep seeing across most industries in Australia over its entire term of government, and we see this government do nothing whatsoever to help the hundreds of thousands of Australians, particularly in regional Queensland, who are suffering from the burst of labour hire, insecure work and casualisation. Time after time we bring examples of these kinds of things into this chamber and ask the government to do something about it, and time after time we see this government take the side of big business against working- and middle-class Australians. Now they're doing it again when it comes to company tax cuts. On top of ignoring the interests of working- and middle-class Australians around penalty rates, stagnant wages and casualisation—in addition to all of that—we see this government roll up and want to give a massive $65 billion tax cut to its friends in big business.

It's funny that the government should want to do this, because at the very same time they're always out there complaining about the amount of national debt, the deficit and how we've got to take tough action to rein these things in. So you would wonder how it is that the government can come up with the money to pay for a $65 billion tax cut to big business. Well, the way they're doing it is by yet again hitting working Australians, the people who are losing penalty rates, whose wages are stagnant and who are suffering from insecure work. This government is right now in the process of increasing taxes on working Australians by $300 per year, through increases to the Medicare levy and a range of other measures. It's also hitting the average Australian who has aspirations for their kids by increasing the cost of universities and cutting funding to universities to reduce the quality of education that young Australians receive. Even if you're not going to university, they're coming after you as well by cutting funding for apprenticeships and training. So on every front we see this government out there coming after working- and middle-class Australians, ripping money out of their pockets and out of the schools and hospitals that they depend on, to shovel it to its friends in big business with a $65 billion tax cut. This tax cut is bad for households, it's bad for the economy and it's bad in particular for regional Australia.

The National Party representatives we have in Queensland like to talk a big game about coming down to Canberra and sticking up for regional Queenslanders. We know they've been very distracted by all sorts of shenanigans in their own party over the course of this week, but here's another example of where they are bowing down to the Liberal Party as the Liberal Party comes after regional Australia. With a tax cut to big companies, the biggest companies in Australia, where do you think that money's going to land? I don't see too many massive corporations headquartered in Rockhampton, Townsville, Cairns or Gladstone. This is going to be a massive tax cut to big business on the North Shore of Sydney and in Collins Street in Melbourne, at the expense of regional Australians. So yet again we've got the LNP members from Queensland coming down to Canberra, saying they're going to stick up for regional Queensland and yet again putting up their hands to vote for big business in North Sydney and Melbourne getting a big tax cut.

The government says that this is going to increase profits and that's how we're going to get wages growth, but the ABC had a report based on Treasury modelling, the government's own modelling, which shows that, over the last few years, company profits have been higher than they have been at any time since the early 2000s. But what do you know? Over that exact same period of time, wages have been growing at a rate that hasn't been this low since the 1960s. So we don't need to speculate about what's going to happen if this tax cut gets through. We've already got the evidence there. Company profits have never been higher, or at least not for 10 or 15 years, and wages remain low. The evidence is in that this company tax cut will do nothing for ordinary Australians. It will not lift their wages. It will just shovel more money to big business in North Sydney and Melbourne at the expense of regional Queensland, and a lot of it will end up with overseas investors anyway.


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