Senate debates

Wednesday, 12 September 2018


Treasury Laws Amendment (Accelerated Depreciation for Small Business Entities) Bill 2018; In Committee

9:43 am

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to urge the Senate to support Senator McKim's amendment, and make the point very clearly that the Greens have been the leaders on small business policy in this place over the last six years. You may not want to acknowledge that, Minister—through you, Chair. We brought the most comprehensive small business policy package to the 2013 election. That included a cut for real small businesses with a turnover of under $2 million, which make up the big bulk of my state of Tasmania's economy, that needed a leg-up. We worked with the small business community and COSBOA on accelerated depreciation and another 11 policies, and we took that package to the 2013 election. After the 2013 election, Senator McKim, my colleagues in this place, and I were all proud to vote for a tax cut for small business, and for accelerated depreciation for small business. There's a really important history here, Senator Seselja—through you, Chair. You should be taking this amendment seriously.

While we're talking about how the Greens delivered for Tasmania, it's seldom acknowledged that the price on carbon, which is the international gold standard for action on climate—and Senator Bushby would know this—delivered billions of dollars in windfall to Hydro Tasmania, who then paid a dividend to the Tasmanian government which funded schools, hospitals, policing and national parks. In fact, the Greens pretty much provided a lifeline to Tasmania's Treasury through a price on carbon. That has never been acknowledged in any public comment by the Liberal Party, who came in here and recklessly ripped up action on climate and billions of dollars of revenue to the Tasmanian government and to the Tasmanian people. That has never been acknowledged. Had that price on carbon gone into its final phase, after three years of being a carbon trading scheme, which is what it was set up to do, we would have had an official price on carbon. And we were that close to getting offsets for Tasmania's forests that would have been in the billions. The forests that Senator McKim, in his time in government, saved for the Tasmanian people, were eligible for offsets under the additivity principle, and there were advanced negotiations for the Greens to deliver billions of dollars to the Tasmanian economy. That was ripped up by the Liberal Party, with their cavalier attitude towards climate and the Tasmanian economy.

So, Senator Seselja, if you want to talk about economy-wrecking policies of the Greens, you should have a look at yourself and what you've done to my state of Tasmania. The hundreds of millions of dollars that we delivered through the diversification funds in the Tasmanian Forest Agreement—which I'm proud to say my colleague Nick McKim played a role in delivering—have gone towards setting up mountain bike paths that are now leading the charge in the diversification of the Tasmanian economy. That is another win for the Greens, and for the Tasmanian people. In fact, I could go on and on all day about our 20-year vision for the Tasmanian economy that's come to pass.

In 1992, previous senator Christine Milne and the Green Independents put together a policy for Tasmania. This did include a policy for small business, because they knew back then that small business was the backbone of the Tasmanian economy. They knew that the big businesses that were tied to global commodity cycles would, unfortunately, likely fail in a changing world of globalisation. They predicted the demise of price-taking industries that had no control over their future, and they were right. They said governments should be investing in small business, incentivising small business, and focusing on the competitive strengths of Tasmania—what we have that is unique, that the rest of the world wants and will come and see and will pay good money to see. And we were right.

The only thing that's held Tasmania back for decades—it's benefiting from this now—is the Liberal Party and the Labor Party and their anti-Greens rhetoric and the action they have taken to do everything they possibly can to put us out of business. But I say to Senator Seselja that we were right about small business and the importance of small business in Tasmania.

Senator Bushby, I urge you to support this amendment of Senator McKim's, because you know how important small business is to Tasmania. You have small business interests in your family. You know both my wife and I have run small businesses in Tasmania, and we're just like the tens of thousands of Tasmanians that have small businesses. They work really hard; they employ the majority of Tasmanians. This is exactly the kind of amendment that you should support, to support Tasmanians.


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