Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan) Bill 2016

23 March 2017

Is this what it has come to? The centrepiece of the Turnbull government pre-election

strategy, the big jobs and growth strategy, and the government have given up. There are no speakers. They have

stopped speaking. This was the one single reason we had the election and now you can see the government are

flat lining on their centrepiece. We know that when we have asked questions and when the shadow Treasurer

has asked pretty straightforward questions such as: will you stand by your one economic plan, a failed economic

plan, but a plan so-called nonetheless? They could not answer the question. We know this is unravelling, and I

would suggest that is why we are not seeing any more speakers from the government, because they know this

is a dud plan. This is a dud economic plan for our nation.

When I return to the electorate of Oxley and consult with the residents on the weekend, I will be reporting to them

that not only have the government run out of ideas but their one centrepiece for this week was not about creating

jobs, was not about delivering increasing economic productivity. By their own admission, they have given up

by not speaking on this legislation, by not investing in our skills base, and by not looking at the infrastructure

needs of the growing communities that I represent in the south-west of Brisbane. No, the centrepiece, the one

key announcement by this government for this week was about enabling racial hate speech.

As the former member just said, governments are about priorities. And time and time again we see the priorities

of this government laid out for the nation to see, priorities which will give $48 billion tax to big business over

the next 10 years. At the same time, the government wants to ensure there are cuts to families through changes

to family tax benefits, cuts to pensioners through scrapping the energy supplement, cuts to jobseekers by forcing

them to wait longer times for Newstart, cuts to young people by forcing them from Newstart onto the youth

allowance, and of course cuts to new parents and families by changes to paid parental leave. On top of this, if

this so-called strategy was not enough, we are now seeing the government delivering a $77-a-week pay cut to

some 700,000 Australians who rely on penalty rates to put food on the table, put books on desks and simply

to pay the bills.

This is all about the government's priorities—ensuring there is a tax advantage for large multinational companies

but at the same time ensuring some of the most vulnerable in our community are hit to pay for it. My community

will not stand for it, and, as a representative in this parliament, I will not stand for it either. We know that the

government is hell-bent on making it more and more difficult for everyday Australians, whilst at the same time

handing over this $50 billion tax cut.

But let us have a look at the facts. We know from the government's own modelling that, in 10 years time, we will

not see a huge return on investment from this tax cut. The first point I want to make is that there would be an

annual ongoing cost of $8.3 billion to the Australian taxpayer. That is according to modelling that was released

this week. On top of this handout, Australian families, pensioners, new parents, young people, students, people

living with a disability and jobseekers will be disadvantaged. They will be forced to do the heavy lifting, with

the ongoing cost to the budget of that $8.3 billion per year.

New calculations which have been released show that the $50 billion big tax cut in the Prime Minister's budget

—do not forget this is the centrepiece of the government's economic strategy—will cost the Australian people

an extra $4 billion in interest charges. As we have heard in the debate so far, that equates to $162 for every man,

woman and child in the nation. The total interest bill will hit over half a billion dollars in 2021-22, before blowing

out beyond $1 billion in 2023-24. So we are attempting to give multinationals a big tax cut, whilst at the same

time sending ordinary Australians an interest bill. After all the lectures from this government about debt, deficits

and spiralling interest costs, there is a $50 billion big tax cut in the budget, which will vandalise the budget and

which will potentially threaten Australia's important AAA credit rating.

After all this is said and done, what is the endgame? We know from the government's own modelling—released

by the government on budget night—that the economy would potentially be one per cent bigger as a result of

this. That is one per cent over a decade. The economy would not be one per cent bigger every year—just at the

end of the 10 years. This means the economy would grow at just 0.1 per cent each year. But that begins at the

end of the decade of the tax cuts. So the claimed one per cent dividend is actually 20 years away. That is 20 years

—two decades—of the Australian people waiting to see what that growth will mean for them. It is 20 years of

waiting to ensure that they will be $8.3 billion worse off per year and that they will be slugged with an interest

bill of $4 billion per year. Like many in the community that I represent, we are struggling to see any positives in

this bill at all. We know from Treasury research showing the economic benefits of these company tax cuts that

it will take 20 years for any long-term value, with half the benefit coming in 10 years.

So we are deeply concerned. As the Leader of the Opposition has continually said, we want budget repair with

fairness. Clearly, we know that this government is so out of touch that their No. 1 priority, their No. 2 priority

and their No. 3 priority are ensuring that we look after big business, that we look after the big banks, whilst

Australian families bear the cost of this irresponsible and disastrous economic plan. It is a plan that will deliver

cuts to Australian families, pensioners, new parents, young people, people living with a disability and jobseekers.

As I have said, this comes down to priorities.

I am proud to represent a diverse community in southwest Brisbane, and I know from speaking to local smallbusiness

owners just how hard they work. I know the efforts and sacrifices that they make, away from their

family, working long hours and putting in long days. In the electorate of Oxley, there are around 8,700 businesses.

I am here to support them and to represent them. I am not here to represent large multinational companies. I am

not here to represent the large national banks. They will take care of themselves, and they do. I am here to stand

up for the hardworking men and women who I proudly serve in this parliament.

This is about a government full of wrong priorities. Just this week, there was a report about the significant

contribution that the previous Labor government delivered in education reform. The Gonski reforms, which are

transforming the power of education across the nation, are Labor's vision and legacy. It is about using investment

to ensure we are investing in our young people, in our schools and in our skills sector. We know that the Gonski

funding has been invested across the nation to lift the performances of all students in literacy and numeracy.

They are Labor's priorities. When I speak to the school principals in my electorate, I know how important that

investment has been for the kids and for the mums and dads in my community and in schools like Forest Lake

State High School. Principals like Tom Beck have told me about the power of Gonski funding, which has paid

huge dividends. The school has seen major gains in reading skills for students in years 7 to 9, with double the

expected gains and achievement scores on reading tests.

Those results are there and that sort of investment is there for the world to see. We can see the transformational

nature of investment in things like education, especially early education. The shadow minister at the table, the

member for Adelaide, understands the importance of this and has been a long-term advocate for proper, adequate

funding for and investment in early childhood. What we see from the government is the complete opposite—

wrong priorities after wrong priorities.

We understand that, with this $50 billion big business tax cut, the government will be cutting funding from a

whole range of areas that we know the community support. They will be cutting $30 billion from education

funding over the next 10 years, including $20 million in 2018-19 from schools in my electorate of Oxley. That

is $20 million that the government do not think is important. We had this ridiculous argument in the parliament

yesterday, where the government seemed to pride themselves on wanting to cut funding from schools. This could

be potentially the only modern government in Australia's living history that have proudly advocated reducing the

amount of funding that we want to spend on our schools. They will be taking money from primary schools and

lining the pockets of some of the largest multinational companies in Australia. It is clear to see that, by giving

them that tax cut, the government are interested in the wrong priorities, not in investing in the future.

But we have also seen the crab-walk away, with the government now trying to look as though they are saying:

'We're open to new ideas. We're going to look at how we can target businesses elsewhere.' We have heard from

the Treasurer in the last couple of days all this wriggle language, as he tries to walk away from their centrepiece.

That is why I am not surprised that they have given up speaking on this bill today, that they have walked away.

We have to remind ourselves that this was the government's centrepiece. This was the slogan of the election

campaign. They said, 'Trust us; we'll deliver jobs and growth.' Well, we know that economic growth is not moving

forward. We know that jobs growth is not moving forward either. As a result of them hoodwinking the Australian

community, they have given rise to false hope, and they are now delivering a failed economic plan.

Labor has committed to a reduction in the small business company tax rate, provided there is bipartisan support

from the coalition and it is conducted in a fiscally responsible fashion and in a fair way. I am proud to work

alongside my chambers of commerce—the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce and the Centenary &

Districts Chamber of Commerce—to support the 8,748 small businesses in the electorate of Oxley. The presidents

of those local chambers do a fantastic job advocating and arguing for small business and jobs in our local

community. I know that these local businesses are the backbone of our local economy and they provide hundreds,

if not thousands, of local jobs. It is these small businesses—the mum-and-dad operators in my community and

right across Australia—who deserve our support, who deserve to have Labor and the coalition work with a

constructive and bipartisan approach. That is how we will see economic growth improve and that is where we

will see the jobs growth.

But I will not stand here today and support a $50 billion tax cut to some of the largest multinational companies

in our nation, when mum-and-dad operators—the coffee shops, the cafes, the service industries—in my local

community need support. This is what the government should be focusing on, not worrying about the millionaires

and billionaires across Australia. Labor supported the cut in the company tax rate for small businesses to 28½

per cent and we will support the further cut to 27½ per cent proposed in the 2016 budget, which will cover small

businesses who represent 83 per cent of Australian companies. However, billion-dollar corporations are not small

businesses, and it is time the government heard this message. Let us be clear about the government. They do not

stand up for pensioners. They do not stand up for young people. They do not stand up for jobseekers. They do

not stand up for Australian families. All the government are interested in is looking after the big end of town.

Labor will stand by those who need it.