Thursday, 20 September 2018
Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2018; In Committee
I move opposition amendment (1) on sheet 8437:
(1) Schedule 2, item 3, page 8 (line 14), omit "1 July 2017", substitute "8 February 2018".
This amendment changes the start date for the small business capital gains tax concession measure in schedule 2. Labor flagged our position on this issue during debate on this bill in the other place. Stakeholders have informed Labor that the additional conditions for eligibility for the concessions are detailed in a way that makes the changes more akin to a policy change rather than an integrity change and captures taxpayers who engage in good faith, according to the intent of the concessions. These changes only came to light when the detailed amendments were released in the exposure draft bill on 8 February 2018. Accordingly, Labor's amendment would change the implementation date from 1 July 2017, as per the budget announcement, to 8 February 2018. That is the date of the exposure draft release.
The reality is that this bill could have probably been dealt with and passed an hour ago. We know exactly what's happening here. This is a government with no agenda. This is a government that really have got no legislative agenda of any substance before the Senate. They are in a situation where they are too busy continuing to knife each other, attacking each other, moving from one Prime Minister to another to actually deal with the issues of importance to the Australian people. That's why we had these filibusters take place, where backbench senators stand up and try to talk out 20 minutes on a bill that could have been dealt with in a short period of time. I understand there's no controversy, that we've got agreement on the amendments—there's agreement on this amendment. We should actually get on with the business of this Senate. The problem is that if we do get through the business of the Senate, we will probably run out of legislation. This rabble of a government—their own Prime Minister describes them as 'muppets'—can't get their act together. We had Senator Stoker stand up and tell us about how great things are under a Liberal government. We had Senator Seselja just stand up and tell us how great things are going under this coalition government—they are going swimmingly, aren't they? Things are going swimmingly, going so well under the coalition. What an absolute joke, what an absolute rabble of a government you lot are.
We get told about how they want to deal with the integrity of the tax system. Integrity was so important back in the 2014-15 budget that they actually cut $120 million out of ASIC. That's how much they cared about integrity—$120 million out of ASIC. The Hon. Steven Ciobo, the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, said this:
… there is scope for the financial services industry … to self-regulate more.
That's where they were. That's how much they cared about integrity. They wanted the financial services sector to self-regulate more. What a joke. What an absolute joke. Maybe that explains what their real position is. Maybe that explains why current Prime Minister Morrison actually voted against the royal commission into the banks on 26 occasions. Maybe he wanted the banks to have more self-regulation. Maybe he thought the banks could look after regulation better than the government. Well, under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government that we've got now, they probably could. But look at what they've left.
On 26 occasions this Prime Minister voted against the royal commission into the banks. And people were saying, 'This is a problem. This will mean that ASIC will not be able to carry out its responsibilities as the corporate regulator.' Maybe that's what they wanted, and that's why Prime Minister Morrison voted against the banking inquiry on 26 occasions.
I see Senator Williams has just come into the chamber. At least Senator Williams was consistent: he called for a royal commission into the banking sector. Unfortunately, he could not convince his counterparts in the National Party or Liberal Party to actually implement the royal commission into the banking industry. So, I just don't buy these lectures that we're getting from Senator Stoker and other senators about the great job this government is doing. They are an absolute rabble of a government. They are pathetic. They are a terrible government. They are just—
Through the chair: talk about self-delusion, Chair. They're not a bad government? Well, look, if you're not a bad government, get on with the business of government. Let's get this dealt with. Let's deal with this legislation. Stop trying to filibuster. Stop standing up here for 20 minutes. Each government senator stands up and rabbits on for 20 minutes, rabbits on with a prepared speech, while Senator Seselja gets up and wanders all over the place. This amendment is before us. We should support this amendment. We should deal with this bill and get on with the business of government.
I'm fascinated by the tactics of Senator Cameron taking eight minutes, waffling on about anything other than this bill, to tell us about a filibuster. He's claiming a filibuster, and he spent seven or eight minutes going on about what he didn't like about the 2014 budget and quoting the parliamentary secretary at the time, Steven Ciobo, rather than dealing with the bill.
Senator Cameron claims the economy's not going well. That's absolute rubbish. Senator Cameron didn't like Senator Stoker's contribution—or Senator Hume's outstanding contribution—because he wouldn't want the opportunity to put on the record why this kind of legislation is important and how it builds on the Liberal-National government's agenda and achievements of delivering over one million jobs for our economy. Those one million jobs came despite the Labor Party's opposition. Every major measure we took, you were there to oppose it. When we got rid of the carbon tax and when we got rid of the mining tax, you were there to oppose it. When we were cutting back taxes for small and medium enterprises, you were there to oppose it. When we were dealing with union corruption, which holds our economy back, Senator Cameron and the Labor Party were there to oppose it.
Senator Cameron gets up and gives us a lecture. He takes several minutes—in fact eight or nine minutes—on an amendment to give us a lecture about filibustering, and then he claims that those economic credentials and those achievements aren't real. They are real. They haven't come about by accident. They've come about through sound economic policy, through the right legislation and through the right settings. They've come about despite the Labor Party. As we have fixed your economic mess and as we've fixed your budget mess, at every turn you have opposed us.
We will make no apology for talking about our legislative agenda, which is about tax integrity. We have delivered when it comes to multinationals, when you did nothing. What did the Labor Party do on multinationals when they were in government? Absolutely nothing. We had Senator Dastyari come in opposition and talk about what he wanted to do, which they did nothing about when they were in government. They had six years and they didn't get it done. The economy absolutely stagnated. We have taken a different approach, and that has delivered over one million jobs, lower taxes, and services we need for Australians. We've secured our borders. We've built up our defence industry. We are delivering a balanced budget. Those are things the Labor Party could only dream of when they were in government. We're not going to be lectured to by Senator Cameron on this or anything else.
I will now turn to Senator Cameron's and the opposition's amendment. The government announced, in the 2017-18 budget, an integrity measure to ensure that the small business CGT concessions are appropriately targeted to genuine small businesses with effect from 1 July 2017. The opposition's amendment would defer the start of this measure to 8 February 2018. Delaying the start would allow a further period of time in which to transition into the new arrangements. We believe this is an important integrity measure. The government needs to balance any request for a delayed start against the risk of providing more scope for entities to inappropriately access the small business CGT concessions. Notwithstanding these concerns, the government is willing to support the amendment proposed by the opposition to delay the start to 8 February to 18. The small business CGT concessions are not changing. These concessions provide valuable relief from taxation for small business owners on capital gains on the disposal of assets related to their business, allowing them to reinvest and grow as well as contribute to their retirement savings. Passing this bill will ensure small business CGT concessions are appropriately targeted so they can continue to benefit those that need it the most—hardworking Australian small businesses.
Again, what we've seen here is a lecture from a frontbencher whose own Prime Minister described the backbench and the ministry of this government as muppets in a muppet show. We've just seen the muppet show in action again. It's the absolute muppet show. No-one is arguing about getting unemployment down. I'll tell you that what we need is a decent wage for working people in this country.
Government senators interjecting—
Senator Cameron, would you resume your seat for a moment. It's very difficult to hear Senator Cameron and the contribution he's making. I ask for a little bit of order.
Senator Seselja interjecting—
Is this a point of order, Senator Seselja?
Not only is this mob economically incompetent, but they don't know what a point of order is. They just don't know. They can't enforce a point of order. They're an absolute joke. We are in a position where we could have dealt with this an hour ago. You're putting on a great muppet show for the people in the Senate now. This is an absolute joke.