Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
Assistant Treasurer
Minister for Housing
Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing
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Second Reading: Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan)

We do not support this pathetic and shabby amendment. It is a quite a long amendment, but I do not think that at the bottom here it should read:

Government’s plan to give a $50 billion tax cut to big business is not affordable in the current fiscal and economic circumstances.

I think the amendment should include some of the quotes from a book called Hearts and Minds: a Blueprint for Modern Labor. It is not exactly a bestseller, I might say—I looked on Amazon when searching for this book and it was 7,079,869th on the Amazon list—but we should, in this amendment, include some quotes from the shadow Treasurer.

The Leader of the Opposition asks why there is a distrust of politics and politicians. I will tell him why. It is because those opposite say one thing before they get here and then, when they arrive, say a completely different thing. In his book, the shadow Treasurer said:

Today capital is even more mobile than it was then and it is important that our corporate tax rate is competitive.

He also said:

At 30 per cent, our company tax rate is now above the OECD average … it is how the rate compares to that of our competitors that counts.

He went on to say:

… it’s a Labor thing to have the ambition of reducing company tax, because it promotes investment, creates jobs and drives growth.

Now we have had the shadow Treasurer move this pathetic and shabby amendment. Clearly, the shadow Assistant Treasurer, whom I might say had some pretty good publications in his past, had to accept an economic lobotomy in order to get preselection with the Labor Party, because in a paper titled Do rising incomes lift all boats? Dr Andrew Leigh argued quite forcefully, quite persuasively, why reducing corporate taxes benefits all Australians; indeed, it increases investment, increases the number of jobs and increases incomes for those who have those jobs. Why do we have a deficit of trust in Australian politics? Because we have shabby stunts like this and shabby positions taken by the shadow Treasurer and the shadow Assistant Treasurer. They obviously have no scruples, because arguments they have made for many years—arguments I agree with—are now not politically expedient. They have been hijacked by the extreme left wing of their party—the same extreme left wing that Paul Keating referred to when he instituted a cut in company tax from 49 to 39 per cent. The shadow Treasurer and the shadow Assistant Treasurer now stand with those extreme left-wing Labor members who are arguing that we should have a 60 per cent corporate tax rate.

It should not be a great surprise to people that the shadow Treasurer has done this, because the shadow Treasurer has abjectly failed in every single portfolio he has ever undertaken. When he was the immigration minister he made even the member for Watson look good as an immigration minister. There were record boat arrivals. This man is not capable. This man with the shadow Treasury portfolio today is indicating that he is not up for the job—but we know that, because he has done the job. We know that, lamentably, he was the Treasurer of this country for a very short period of time—I am still reminded of Bowen’s $18 billion black hole! But he has the audacity to come to this dispatch box and criticise this government’s efforts to turbocharge our economy and improve the budget bottom line.

We have got a team here: the shadow Treasurer, who is an abject failure in everything he has ever done in this place and continues to be; and the shadow Assistant Treasurer, who I think in his heart of hearts agrees with us. In his heart of hearts he knows that the company tax cuts for all businesses, which we are proposing, are so important for this country, but he has sold his soul for a seat in parliament. He is colloquially known as ‘the lobotomised member for Fenner’ because they have taken every good idea that he ever had and reprogrammed him. Now he sounds like someone on the Socialist Left of that party.

This amendment is shabby and very short-sighted. In the OECD even the socialist French government is implementing cuts in corporate tax from 30 to 28 per cent. We will have a higher corporate tax rate than socialist France. Ponder that thought.

It is extraordinary that the Labor Party has dragged this motley duo of the shadow Treasurer and shadow Assistant Treasurer to this extreme left position, which I really would have expected to see from the Greens political party, not the Labor Party. When I had a look at Hearts and Minds: a Blueprint for Modern Labor—I borrowed it from the library, Mr Speaker—I saw there was a foreword from Paul Keating. Paul Keating would repudiate this motley duo of the shadow Treasurer and the shadow Assistant Treasurer, because they have repudiated every single legacy of that period of Labor government.

We will continue to do what is right for this country and make these arguments. These are tax cuts for all businesses. These are tax cuts that will start with your local hairdresser. These are tax cuts that will start with the local cafe. These are tax cuts that will start with people like my sister, who has started a small business, working from home so she can be with her children. These are tax cuts that will benefit her. These are tax cuts for the smallest companies, the smallest businesses—the businesses that we know drive the growth, the entrepreneurial spirit and, ultimately, the prosperity of this country. So I am very disappointed to see that the motley duo of the shadow Treasurer and assistant Shadow Treasurer have been dragged to the extreme left of their party, but we will do what is right. We will continue to argue for these tax cuts. They will ultimately provide the economic growth that we need in order to give Australians the prosperity that we know they deserve. We are not going to let these shabby little political stunts get in the way.

Click here to access a PDF copy of the Hansard transcript of this speech.