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Question Time: Combating multinational tax avoidance
Mr TIM WILSON (Goldstein) (14:24): My question is to the Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison government is ensuring multinationals, including digital platforms, are paying their fair share of tax in order to fund vital services and infrastructure that everyday Australians deserve?
Mr SUKKAR (Deakin—Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing) (14:24): Can I particularly thank the member for Goldstein for his question. Can I say that the Morrison government is a government that absolutely believes in lower taxes and, importantly, it believes in a tax system with integrity. We have shown, time and time again, that we are determined to ensure that multinationals, including those on digital platforms, pay the right amount of tax in Australia, to help fund the essential services that Australians deserve and require. That’s why we have consistently taken action to close loopholes and, importantly, to ensure that the ATO is resourced and has the tools required to detect tax avoidance.
Since the Tax Avoidance Taskforce was set up in 2016—a big moment for this parliament—an extra $13½ billion has flowed into the Australian revenue system. We have a lot of new members in this parliament. If somebody proposed legislation that was going to raise an extra $13½ billion to be spent on Australian schools, roads and infrastructure, from multinational corporations, to be spent in this country, do you think you’d support that legislation?
Undoubtedly, you would support legislation that somebody said would raise $13½ billion extra. But guess what? I can tell all those new members of this House: the Labor Party voted against it. And, believe it or not, to get that legislation passed, we relied on the Greens. The Greens showed more economic sense than the Labor Party in supporting our multinational anti-avoidance laws, which have raised $13½ billion. But it gets worse—you’d think the Labor Party would learn their lesson—we proposed to ensure that foreign digital platforms that were selling low-value goods into Australia collected and paid GST, to level the playing field for Australian businesses that were competing against it. That law, I can report to the House, in the first three-quarters of the first year that it has been in place, has raised $253 million. So that’s $253 million via GST, which is funding schools and hospitals, collected from foreign digital platforms, is now being spent—and funding essential services in Australia. Guess what? The Labor Party didn’t support that either.
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