Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Bills

Treasury Laws Amendment (Increasing the Instant Asset Write-Off for Small Business Entities) Bill 2019; Second Reading

4:37 pm

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | Hansard source

I've got to say, Senator Williams, any government that would put Senator Cash in charge of anything, especially small business, is not looking after the interests of small business. It's particularly good to see the Liberal and National parties adopting our policy. As we know, it was the Australian Labor Party that first legislated for an expanded instant asset write-off from the $6,500 threshold in 2012. The coalition subsequently abolished the instant asset write-off, returning it to a $1,000 threshold before reintroducing an expanded instant asset write-off with a $20,000 threshold in 2015. The government has since renewed it, in 2017, 2018 and again now, in 2019. Of course, Labor supported the original measure and supported its two previous renewals and will support this one today.

While there's no difference between Labor and the government on taxes for small business, the principal difference at the moment is in relation to the Australian Investment Guarantee, announced last year. It will allow businesses to deduct up-front 20 per cent of all new investments, with the remaining amount depreciated in line with normal depreciation schedules. Assets such as machinery, plants and equipment—for example, things like trucks or utes—and intangible investments such as patents and copyrights will be eligible for the immediate deduction. This investment guarantee promotes investment in local economies. The investment guarantee is well targeted, fully funded, cost-effective, fiscally responsible and funded by Labor's reforms to the tax system. I want to make it clear to everyone that under a Shorten Labor government 99 per cent of businesses will receive a tax cut, no business will have its tax rate increased and all businesses will be able to plan and invest with confidence and certainty.

Let me turn to the amendment. Yesterday in the other place we debated this bill on the understanding that it would increase the instant asset write-off to $25,000, yet today the government has announced budget measures that increase the instant asset write-off again, to $30,000 for businesses of up to $50 million in turnover. This is just more policy chaos from this rabble of a government. The real challenge for small business in this country is this government and its hopeless policy development and relentless instability. How can you concentrate on doing the right thing by small business when the minister is in personal crisis and the government is in collective crisis? It just doesn't work.

Labor has been leading the way on small business policy, with our Small Business Access to Justice policy passing into law in the last parliamentary sitting period. Small businesses are less likely to seek help from our court system to stand up to big business. Small Business Access to Justice will make sure they get support to defend themselves against anticompetitive conduct. It's a policy which the small-business sector have wanted for a long time but which the coalition have repeatedly voted against—and you know why? All their mates are up there at the big end of town. Only with Labor and the help of some renegade Nationals did this important reform pass through the House. Labor will provide the stability small business needs. Labor will support small businesses with the Australian investment guarantee. I commend the bill to the Senate.

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