Thursday, 22 June 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. On 1 July up to 700 Australian workers will see a wage decrease when the cut to Sunday penalty rates begins to take effect. When wage growth is at its lowest level on record, why is the government supporting a cut to some of Australia's lowest-paid workers?
Well, Senator Polley, as I and others have pointed out to you and your colleagues many times in this chamber in recent months, the government absolutely supports the independence of the Fair Work Commission. And might I remind you that the Fair Work Commission was established by a Labor government on the basis that it would be independent. So, not only does the government support its independence; you should be supporting it, too, because you created it to be independent. We respect that; you obviously do not.
I am glad you asked me about 1 July 2017, because it gives me the opportunity to address some of the measures that will be coming into operation on 1 July 2017 that will make Australians' lives a lot better than they were. More than 232,000 more Australians will be in work on 1 July 2017 than were a year ago; 3.2 million small businesses, which employ 6.5 million Australians, will be the beneficiaries of the government's Enterprise Tax Plan as of 1 July, enabling them to pay better wages and to employ more employees. We will be implementing the bank levy on 1 July, ensuring that the banks make a greater contribution than they have been making to the budget. On 1 July our childcare reforms will come into operation, which will benefit about a million Australian families. We will have secured Australia's energy future, Senator Polley, because on— (Time expired)
On 1 July the Turnbull government's $16,400 tax cut for millionaires will take effect. How is it fair that on the same day up to 700,000 workers will have their pay cut? The Turnbull government is giving millionaires a tax cut. That is what is happening on 1 July.
What is happening on 1 July in relation to tax and revenue is that we will be giving small and medium-sized businesses a tax cut so that they can employ more Australians and pay their employees better wages. That is what we are doing. And, as I said in answer to your primary question, that will benefit 3.2 million Australian businesses who employ 6.5 million Australians. That is why we actually made the deliberate decision to front-end load our Enterprise Tax Plan towards small business, so that small businesses—who, as you know, are the great employers of the Australian economy—will be the earliest beneficiaries of the Enterprise Tax Plan. And I can tell you, Senator Polley, since you asked about revenue, that also on 1 July we will see the commencement of the diverted profits tax. (Time expired)
On 1 July Energy Australia electricity prices for the average household in New South Wales will go up by nearly 20 per cent, or almost $320 a year. Why is the Turnbull government making it harder for pensioners to pay increasing power costs by cutting payments by $365 for single pensioners and $550 for couples?
Senator Polley, I am surprised you would be asking that question when under the Labor government in which you served electricity prices doubled. The price to Australian households of their electricity bill doubled in the period of your government, whereas, as the Finkel report and the charts and graphs in it demonstrate, under this government electricity prices have stabilised.
Nevertheless, as I have pointed out to the chamber many times, it is necessary for us to be proactive to ensure that electricity prices do not go up, to ensure that electricity prices remain affordable, which is why the government have already announced—the Prime Minister, Mr Frydenberg and Senator Canavan announced this on Tuesday—a series of measures that we are taking to ensure that electricity remains affordable, informed by the Finkel report, informed by discussions in our party room— (Time expired)