Questions Without Notice - Taxation (1)

March 22, 2018








We know that those opposite have been consistent on one thing: they have consistently been backing big business. If it's a choice between big business and Australian workers and Australian families, I know which side our team comes down on. We will always back Australian workers and Australian families, whereas those opposite are going to back big business. There's a real divide in this parliament over this issue. I'm proud of the stance that the Labor Party have taken on this—and we will absolutely stick to it.

I know whose side the Australian people are on, and that is our side. They know that the rubbish peddled from those opposite is exactly that—it is absolute rubbish. The funniest part of the arguments that the coalition run is that we've got to back Trump, that we've got to go down the path of Trump. I can imagine what Australian families are thinking about when they hear those opposite talking about going down the Trump path. That is exactly what Australia doesn't want. We know what they've done to their health system in America and, if we go down the path that the coalition want to with corporate tax cuts, that's what it's going to lead to in Australia. This is the path, the trajectory, that they want Australia to go down. The Australian people, Australian families and Australian workers are going to stand up against them, and the Labor Party are going to be there with them.

It is concerning that the crossbench are falling for what is basically a trick from those opposite—an ideological pursuit that they have been sticking to now for years. It's disappointing that some of the crossbench have indicated that they're willing to support it. What have they got in return? A letter from 10 CEOs—that's all they have in return—saying that these changes would mean that they would invest more in Australia. It's not worth the paper it's written on. When it comes to making those sorts of decisions, those CEOs are answerable to their board and shareholders. When they're making investment decisions, they're not going to go, 'Remember that letter I wrote 18 months ago.' Of course they're not. They're going to be answerable to their board and shareholders. They are the ones who decide the CEO's salary and terms of appointment and if they have a job or not. So this nonsense that a letter from 10 CEOs is some sort of guarantee that the crossbench should sign up to is nonsense. The crossbench still have time to work that out. They have time to say: 'Hang on a sec. This isn't good enough. This isn't going to work for the Australian people. We've made a mistake and we are going to reject this approach because it will have a devastating impact on Australian families.'

Let's look at this. We know the government already have cuts to health and education on the table. We know what they've offered up. Giving business a $65 billion tax cut means billions less for government services like health. We know the advantage that this will give to the big four banks. They are some of the most profitable banks in the world and they will be the big winners from this, getting an extra $7.4 billion in the first 10 years of tax cuts when they're already making record profits. By the 2025-26 financial year, the tax cuts for the big four banks will be $3.2 billion each year. When was the last time these banks invested that back into the community? They don't anymore. They shut branches, employ fewer people and are all talking about automation and what that will mean for their workforce. It is nonsense to think that banks getting a tax cut are somehow going to reinvest this. It will go to their shareholders. It will go offshore. It isn't going to create one more job for the Australian people. This is what the government are proposing. This is what the crossbench is signing up for.

Then we come to foreign shareholders and how they are going to benefit from this. They will be the big winners from a company tax cut. Basically, the benefits of the company tax cuts go mostly to foreign shareholders, not to Australian shareholders. There's also no connection between tax rates and employment. There is no correlation between lower company tax rates and employment or economic growth. Common sense says this. The historical analysis says this. International data confirms this as well. Tax rates are only one part of any investment decision that companies make. They do business in Australia because we are an attractive place to invest. We have a stable workforce and stable political conditions, so they know they can make a decision that will make a difference.

We also know that regional areas in Queensland and other parts of Australia will suffer from this decision because they're going to see none of the benefits that those opposite talk about. I'd say to the crossbench: it's not too late to wake up over the weekend, come back into this place and make a sensible decision for Australian workers and families.

Question agreed to.