Taxation Take Note of Answers

I rise to particularly take note of some of the comments that members opposite have just made. For anyone of the Australian public who is listing to this at the moment—

Senator Brandis:
Nobody is.

you really need to consider what both Senators O’Neill and McCarthy have just said. They have talked about the fact that Australia has a growing debt and they are suggesting that the government is walking away from some of its commitments. I ask you to cast your minds back to when the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments left office. It was unlike when they inherited government: the books were in balance. We had money in the bank earning interest. When the coalition resumed government, there was a massive national debt and, importantly, the trajectory of the debt was on an increasing level. Ever since the coalition has come into government, it has sought to rein back that debt.

Members opposite should remember the words of the former Prime Minister, Mr Howard, who said that politics is governed by the rules of arithmetic. If the ALP does not support measures that the government brings into this place, to take steps to make savings to rein in that debt—well, guess what?—that debt is going to continue to increase. We have managed, with the support of the crossbench, to get some measures through that will reduce the rate of growth of that debt, but the primary reason that the government has not got its measures through is that the opposition has not supported those measures, so they cannot turn around and say that the government is walking away or not delivering or not fulling election commitments when they are the ones who are voting against the measures that the government has brought forward.

On this issue of tax cuts, it is pure rank political opportunism by the opposition, and particularly by the leader of the opposition. When Mr Shorten was in government, he made the case again and again about why company tax cuts would lead to more employment and benefit the economy. At the moment, we have the ridiculous situation where, for pure politics, we are seeing small and medium businesses being asked to pay some $5 billion more in tax and the opposition at the same time refusing to support measures that will reduce debt by nearly $6 billion. It is pure class warfare when members opposite start talking just about big business and put this label on ‘big business’, but when they were in government, they understood why, for example, other comparative countries to Australia were taking similar measures. The United Kingdom reduced its main corporate tax rate in stages from 30 per cent to 20 per cent. Over the period from 2008 to 2014, Canada has reduced its main corporate tax rate from an average of 36 per cent to 26, and Singapore has come down as low as 17. In the UK, their analysis says that that tax cut has been a central part of the government’s economic strategy, contributing to the economic recovery in that country, business investment and job creation. The University of Oxford found that the corporate tax reforms in the UK increased investment by nearly $11 billion. The UK government have said the long-term impact of corporate tax cuts would increase GDP by up to 1.3 per cent.

In a state like South Australia, where we desperately need to see jobs for young people who have trained in trades or have gone to university and come out as graduates, we see them going interstate at the moment, and part of the reason for that is that we do not have large companies who are prepared to invest in South Australia, creating those job pathways, whether you are a tradie or a graduate. We desperately need to see Australia be a competitive place in the world, because that will attract the capital that will lead to corporate investment, and corporate investment leads to growth in GDP. That gives us the ability to pay for things like education, housing, health and all of the things that we want as Australians. But it starts with investment. It starts with people creating jobs. As the Labor Party well know, it is only because of rank political opportunism that they now deny that corporate tax cuts are not just about the big end of town; they are about delivering jobs for everyday Australians.