Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
If Bill Shorten cares about jobs he will tell his Labor Senators to support the Government’s plan to cut business tax rates. Bill Shorten knows that a more competitive business tax rate will boost investment and create more jobs. That is what he himself has argued for years. That is what Chris Bowen has argued for years. In fact Bill Shorten has argued strenuously that business tax cuts needed to be applied to all businesses, not even just to small business.
What we call on Bill Shorten and Labor to do is to stop playing politics, to put the national interest first, to show that he genuinely cares about jobs. Because he knows that a more competitive business tax rate will boost jobs, will boost wages and we should just get on with it.
Happy to take questions.
We have just heard, I am not sure whether you were in earshot but from Wayne Swan who said there is absolutely no chance that they are willing to budge from the $2 million mark. So what is the Government’s approach from here in terms of finding a threshold that is palatable to some of those volatile crossbenchers?
Wayne Swan has got absolutely no credibility. He is the guy who gave us the mining tax, which hit one of Australia’s most important industries for six at the time. Not raising any money at all. He gave us a multibillion dollar tax, spent all the money he thought it would raise and in the end the tax did not raise anything at all, cost the Budget actually money. We are not going to take advice from Wayne Swan, a widely discredited, failed former Labor Treasurer.
The Government is focused on making sure that the economy can be as strong as possible, as successful as possible, that the economy can create as many jobs as possible. What we understand is that for individual Australians to be as successful as possible, we need the businesses that employ them to be as successful and as profitable as possible. A lower company tax rate will help ensure that businesses can reinvest more of their own money into their future success, employ more Australians and pay them better wages over time. We are committed to one hundred per cent of the ten year enterprise tax plan that we took to the last election and that is reflected in the Budget.
Has a deal been done on a $10 million tax plan?
We are committed to one hundred per cent of our ten year enterprise tax plan. The debate in the Senate is starting today. If Bill Shorten was focused on the national interest instead of just his perception of his short term political self-interest, he would come out today and back the Government’s ten year enterprise tax plan. He would back our plan for lower business taxes in order to boost jobs and boost wages.
How would you go about splitting that Bill? How would that work?
The Government is not proposing to split the Bill. The Government is proposing to legislate the Bill which reflects the ten year enterprise tax plan that we took to the last election. The ten year enterprise tax plan that is reflected in the Budget, that is fully accounted for and fully funded in our Budget.
So you are saying that no deal has been done and no plans are afoot to split that Bill?
What I am saying is that the Government remains absolutely committed to implementing the ten year enterprise tax plan that we took to the last election, that is before the Parliament as we speak, debate on which will start in the Senate today. The Government does not have a majority in the Senate. Everybody knows that. So we will continue to work with all Senators, all non-Government Senators, to get as much of our agenda through as possible.
And just onto other issues of the day. First, the ACTU Secretary calling for a $45 boost to the minimum wage. What is your appetite towards such an increase?
These are not decisions for a Government to make. These are not decisions for politicians to make. These are decisions that are appropriately a matter for the independent Fair Work Commission. We can see that Bill Shorten and the Labor Party and the union movement think that Fair Work should act as an extension of the union movement and the Labor Party. We actually respect their independence.
What is your appetite towards a Productivity Commission’s findings about reforming the super system and releasing some of the grip that industry and union funds have on the market?
It is always important to ensure that the policy settings in relation to superannuation ensure that the system is as competitive as possible, that governance is as sound as possible. Super funds across Australia, whatever their background and make up, they look after billions and billions of dollars of retirement savings for Australians. It is important that they continue to perform, that the system is appropriately competitive, that corporate governance standards are appropriately high. The Productivity Commission put out a draft report at this point, so the Government will consider that in the usual way and we will make judgements once we have gone through those considerations.