Thursday, 5 December 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Can the minister inform the Senate on how the Morrison government's plan is working to make Australia even better? And what are the government's key achievements over the past year?
I thank Senator Chandler very much for that question. For the first time in 11 years our budget returned to balance this year and, of course, we're on track to deliver the first surplus budget in 12 years.
Since the election, we have delivered and passed in legislation through this chamber a further $158 billion worth of income tax relief for more than 10 million Australians, including immediate tax relief for low- and middle-income earners to ease the cost of living. This builds on our personal income tax plan, which was legislated the year before, and means we have now pursued the most comprehensive tax reform—personal income tax relief and personal income tax reform—since the mid-1990s. In fact, we've abolished an entire tax bracket: about 94 per cent of Australians will not pay more than 30 per cent tax on any of their income.
We've been able to grow employment by adding a further 250,000 new jobs over the last 12 months. We've expanded and extended the instant asset write-off for small business, which employs 5.7 million workers. We have passed legislation to deal with market misconduct in the energy market, something that the Labor Party initially criticised us for and then supported. We've given vital support to our farmers, through increases in the farm household allowance, and we've also established the $5 billion Future Drought Fund.
In recent weeks we have brought forward more than $3.8 billion in infrastructure investment which will help to strengthen the economy, create more jobs and get Australians home sooner and safer. We've been able to list more life-saving medicines on the PBS. Every child asylum seeker has now left Nauru and Manus, and we've closed 19 detention centres since 2013.
Since the 2018 budget we've invested $2.7 billion in 44,000 new home-care packages. The parliament recently ratified three important trade agreements with key trading partners, opening up new export opportunities with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru. (Time expired)
All of our reforms are designed to ensure that individual Australians and businesses around Australia have the best possible opportunity to be successful and the best possible opportunity to get ahead.
By making it easier for businesses to be successful, they are helped to hire more Australians and to pay them better wages over time. Making sure Australians get to keep more of their own money as a result of our income tax relief means that they will spend that money in the economy over time, helping to boost economic growth and create more jobs. By making sure that we keep negotiating and successfully finalising free-trade agreements, like the one that was legislated the other week with Indonesia, we help our exporting businesses to get better access to markets around the world, particularly in our region. And as our exporting businesses get better access to markets around the world and get more successful and profitable, they're able to hire more Australians and pay them better wages over time.
Of course, there is so much more to talk about, but I'm limited by time. There is so much more in our plan to help Australians to get ahead. (Time expired)
Australia is a globally focused open trading economy. That creates a lot of opportunity for us to continue to lift our living standards but it exposes us to risk because obviously what happens in the global economy matters to the Australian economy. That is why we are working to ensure we are internationally as competitive as possible, that the Australian economy is in the best possible position to take advantage of opportunities and as resilient as possible to deal with headwinds.
I'm asked by Senator Chandler whether I'm aware of alternative approaches in policy. Sadly, I'm not aware of any alternative policy approaches because I think the Labor Party these days is a policy-free zone. Since the election, what we've seen from the Labor Party in this chamber is nothing other than the pursuit of the politics of smear and innuendo. I hope that in 2020 we will see a different Labor Party—one that actually engages in policy debates for our nation.