Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2018


Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan No. 2) Bill 2017; In Committee

6:39 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

So Mr Shorten wasn't educated before, Senator Cameron? I don't quite understand your interjected answers to my questions. Perhaps you could get up and explain how Mr Shorten could just a few short years ago positively advocate for this policy when he's now done a complete about-face. I stand to be corrected, but I don't think he's ever given any explanation as to why he changed his mind, so perhaps you could tell us why that is, or perhaps Senator Cormann has seen some credible explanation from Mr Shorten on why a few short years ago this was his government's policy. He was an economic minister in a government that was advocating this—a government that Senator Cameron was part of for a short period of time. And I'm flabbergasted. Not many people believe Mr Shorten on anything, but we did hear him strongly advocating for his government at the time to introduce these sorts of tax concessions. Why? Because Mr Shorten understood that, to remain competitive, we had to meet the market, so to speak, with the rate of tax. So that's one of my questions, Minister, if you could answer it. If not, perhaps Senator Cameron could answer.

Earlier in the day in this committee stage debate, I asked about some Queensland companies which are not big companies by relative standards. JBS was one that you mentioned, Minister. It's a meat processor based in Townsville and it employs a lot of Townsville people—a lot of meatworkers. Brent Eastwood has, as you rightly pointed out and as was reported in The Courier Mail, called upon the parliament to support these tax breaks for his company and for other companies similar to his, because he understands the tough world of business. He has to compete with imported meat products, and it's very difficult for him to do that when he is paying a rate of tax greater than that paid by his competitors in other countries.

I also mentioned the case of Teys Brothers, which have meat processing plants at Rockhampton and Biloela. I can't speak for them. I haven't heard them say anything about this particular tax reduction, but I can make a pretty fair assumption that they also would be very much in favour of it, because, in the times I visited their premises at Rockhampton and Biloela, I was told that this meat processing business is a pretty tough business. They're always competing with imports from the Americas—mainly South America, as I recall—and they rightly say that they pay their workers in Australia properly, as they're required to and as they're happy to do, but they have to compete with workers in other countries who are not on the same wage scale and conditions as Australian workers. But they understand that and they still compete.

When it comes to taxation, here is a way that we can allow JBS and Thiess Bros to actually compete. Senator Storer, in his contribution earlier on, said that he couldn't see the advantage of it, couldn't see how this would be passed on to help Australian workers and Australian jobs. Could I suggest to him that he might give the managing director of JBS a call and hear why he thinks—


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