Questions Without Notice - Taxation

March 28, 2018








It's a pleasure to follow on from Senator Stoker, but unfortunately, being a fellow Queensland senator, I'm going to have to disagree with the senator in this debate. I want to pick up on one word that the senator used, and that is 'exposed'. There is only one thing that has been exposed today and that's the hoax that Senator Cormann and their big business mates, in conjunction with their work with the Business Council of Australia, were purporting to have on the Australian people, Australian workers and Australian families. That's what was exposed in the question from Senator Wong. It has also been unravelling this week.

What we see in this debate around company tax is that it really is about priorities. Australian families know and understand that those on that side are on the side of big business and the banks, whereas we on this side are on the side of Australian families and Australian workers, and we are absolutely proud to be so. What we have seen exposed this week has been as a result of the desperation of Senator Cormann and his government to get a deal done with the crossbench. They will say and do anything to convince the crossbenchers to sign up with them and also to convince the Australian public. I'm very thankful that there are a number of crossbenchers who were prepared to hold out and ensure that the hoax those opposite were trying to purport was exposed. That's happened throughout this week because of what happened within the Business Council of Australia.

First, there was a survey that contradicted their public stance. This was exposed earlier in the week. It basically went to CEOs not actually investing the money into wages or further growth in Australia. It actually started with the survey. What we have seen exposed by Senator Wong through her question to Senator Cormann today is the letter they were touting to the crossbench. They were using this letter to convince the crossbenchers to sign up to support the big business tax breaks that the government has been supporting. It exposed that as a hoax as well.

Let me go through in detail what elements of that have been a hoax. First, they deleted a commitment to increase wages. That is one of the key selling points that those opposite have been using. It was in the draft letter that the BCA put together, but it was deleted from that. They also deleted the commitment in there that they would create more Australian jobs in the cities, suburbs, towns and bush.

That's very Churchillian, almost like it was from Senator Cormann yesterday. That came out. For those people out there who are looking for work or for those in areas where there is a depressed employment market, they deleted the comment that would have given those people some hope. And this, for me, is just gobsmacking: they deleted a commitment 'to pay our tax'. Rightly, Australians are sceptical about the hoax that has been put forward. What really is exposed here is that there's a public view that they put out to try and convince the crossbench senators and the public of what their position is, and then they've got a private view. That private view should be very concerning if you are an Australian worker or an Australian family out there, because they make no commitment, in private, to doing what they are saying in public, and that is what has been exposed through this process.

So, when we look at the consequences of what this big business tax cut would mean, what we on the Labor side know, and what Australian families know, is this will result in a cut to services—cuts to health, cuts to education. Where does this impact the most? In regional areas. So there are no commitments to jobs and no commitments to investment. That's all a public hoax. But, when we look up what they're privately committed to, it will mean cuts to health and cuts to education that will have a devastating impact on communities, particularly those in regional areas that most rely on this. These communities see no benefit; all they see is the downside. And they will absolutely hold this government to account.

We know, as I said at the start, that this is all about priorities. What the Australian public know is that those opposite are on the side of big business and the banks. Those on this side are on the side of Australian families and Australian workers, and I absolutely know where we will stay as we fight this until the next election.

Question agreed to.