Monday, 5 February 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann—and I too congratulate him on his new position. Yesterday, when asked about the impact of his government's increase in the Medicare levy, the Prime Minister's told the ABC, 'I am not going to concede your figures.' Given the Prime Minister refused to concede how much extra Australians will be paying, will the minister now concede that the increase will mean a worker on $55,000 will pay $275 extra a year in tax while someone on $80,000 will face an extra $400 in tax?
The coalition doesn't take any lectures from the Labor Party when it comes to tax. Taxes under the Labor Party will always be higher than under the coalition, because we know from the Labor Party that they've already thrown overboard the tax as a share of GDP cap. The Labor Party has already said that they will increase the overall tax burden in the economy beyond 23.9 per cent as a share of GDP. We are committed to keeping it below, and of course the coalition will deliver personal income tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners.
Let me say that Australian workers—in particular, low- and middle-income earners—will be better off as a result of our business tax cuts. Nine out of 10 working Australians are employed by a private sector business, and their future job security, their future career prospects and their future wage increases depend on the future profitability of those businesses.
My point of order goes to relevance: I know that Senator Cormann always likes to spruik a company tax cut. The question was actually about the additional tax workers will pay as a result of this government's increase to the Medicare levy. He was asked specifically about workers on $55,000 paying an additional $275 and someone on $80,000 facing an extra $400 in tax. It was specific to the Medicare levy, not on the company tax rate.
On the point of order, I consider the minister to be addressing the question which related to a range of tax issues. There were a range of tax examples provided, and I consider the minister to be addressing—
Senator Jacinta Collins interjecting—
The question at the end was: will the minister concede? It had a preamble and examples, and I consider the minister has been addressing the question in answering it. I can't instruct the minister how to answer a question.
Thank you very much. The Australian people, if they're watching the shenanigans again from the Labor Party, will be very disappointed. Of course, there is supposedly bipartisan support for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, except that the Labor Party didn't properly fund it. What we have included in our budget is a measure to ensure that the NDIS can be properly funded. All of those numbers are public. All of those numbers are reflected not only in the budget but in all of the documentation that's been released since then. This is just the Labor Party playing games. You are the high-taxing party. No Australian believes for one minute otherwise. Everybody knows that, if left to their own devices, under Labor taxes will go up and up and opportunity will go down and down.
I have a supplementary question, specifically again on the Medicare levy. Australians will pay an additional $1.7 billion a year as a result of the government's planned Medicare levy increase for low- and middle-income earners. How much of this will the Turnbull government's so-called tax cuts give back to low- and middle-income earners?
Firstly, Australians actually are prepared to support the proper funding of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Australians accept that it is fair to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme through an increase in the Medicare levy, the way it's proposed, because the more you earn, the more you pay; the less you earn, the less you pay. There are of course exemptions for very low income earners. When it comes to future personal income tax cuts, as the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and others have indicated for some time now, the government is currently working its way through what is affordable in its budget and it will be released in due course as part of the budget on the second Tuesday in May, by the time all the work has been done.
Given the Turnbull government is pressing ahead with its $65 billion tax cuts for big business while increasing the tax burden on everyday Australians, will the minister concede the Turnbull government will always put the interests of big business ahead of the interests of working- and middle-class Australians?
I completely and utterly reject that. The Turnbull government unequivocally stands up for the interests of everyday Australians. We want families across Australia to have the best opportunity to get ahead. And for families across Australia to have the best possible opportunity to get ahead, the businesses that employ them have to have the best possible opportunity to be profitable and to be successful. Less profitable and less successful businesses will employ fewer Australians and pay them lower wages. That is something the Labor Party doesn't understand. Under our policies, more successful and more profitable businesses will be able to hire more Australians and pay them better wages.
I have to correct Senator Collins. She talks about a $65 billion tax cut for big business. Half of that went to small and medium-sized businesses. She knows that, unless she's already decided that businesses with a turnover of $2 million or $3 million a year will get a tax hike under the Labor Party.