Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Acting Prime Minister
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is great to be here with my good friend and valued colleague Luke Howarth, the Member for Petrie, visiting this great business. Thank you to Tom and Sarah for welcoming us here in their business today. This is what our business tax cuts are all about. This is a business which 14 years ago started with one carpenter. It now employs more than 50 Australians, more than 50 Queenslanders. We want more businesses in Queensland and around Australia to be more profitable, more successful, so they can hire more Australians and pay them better wages over time. In order to ensure that can happen we need to ensure that businesses in Queensland and around Australia have the best possible conditions to be able to compete. Given countries all around the world have reduced their business tax rate, have reduced the business tax rate for their businesses down to 21 per cent in the US, down to 17 per cent in the UK, down to 25 per cent in France, we need to make sure that businesses here in Australia are not disadvantaged. We all want more jobs and higher wages. We want the best possible opportunities for families here in Queensland, here in Petrie to get ahead. Well the message to Bill Shorten is that more jobs and higher wages do not grow on trees. They are created by successful, profitable businesses like this one. If we want to create more new jobs, if we want to ensure that people across Australia can have new, secure, well paid jobs today and into the future, building careers, pursuing careers here in Australia, then we need to ensure that businesses have the best possible opportunity to be successful and profitable. Nine out of ten working Australians, nine out of ten working Queenslanders work for a private sector business. Their future job opportunities, their future job security, their future career prospects, their future wage increases depend on the future success and profitability of businesses like this one. That is why we want to see the Senate pass our business tax cuts in full. To give businesses like this one the best possible opportunity to succeed and be profitable, so they can hire more Australians and pay them better wages. In opposing business tax cuts, Bill Shorten is standing in the way of more jobs and higher wages. No doubt, that is why in Rockhampton today, as he was asked about his plan for jobs and growth, Bill Shorten was completely rattled. Bill Shorten does not have a plan for jobs and growth and that is the conversation that the Australian people need. That is the conversation that the Australian Senate needs to engage in over the coming weeks.
I am going to ask my good friend Luke Howarth to say a few words and then I am happy to take some questions.
LUKE HOWARTH: Thank you Mathias, it is wonderful to have you here in Petrie today as Acting Prime Minister of Australia. I want to thank Tom and Sarah from Kingswood Cabinets for employing local people here in Petrie. It is businesses like Kingswood Cabinets that are manufacturing kitchen products and local manufacturing that is providing jobs for people and families in my electorate of Petrie and in the wider Moreton Bay area. Now we are here in the Narangba Business District and there is a lot of businesses, if you look around, there is a lot of businesses in this area that turn over between that $10 million and $50 million. There are other businesses that turn over above $50 million and we know that reducing company tax is actually helping Australians. A plan to increase taxes is not the right way to go. Businesses like this at the end of the financial year, they need to leave a million dollars or so in the bank just to cover wages and rent and equipment if there is a downturn and $300,000 of that has to straight to the Federal Government, at 30 per cent tax rate. Yet we have got countries around the world like the US reducing their rate to 21 per cent, Great Britain down to 20. We want to get it down to a modest 25 per cent for all businesses and what that would mean is that rather than having to shell out $300,000 straight to the Government, they would only have to shell out $250,000. That is an additional $50,000 to hire another person, or to invest in more equipment, or to buy new products. It is very important that our plan for jobs and growth, where we are already seeing dividends in the last 12 months, undisputed dividends with over 400,000 jobs created Australia-wide in the last 12 months, 75 per cent of them full-time, over 300,000 full-time and most of them in the small and medium-sized enterprises. So our company tax cuts and our instant asset tax write-off are already producing dividends and now we need to take it to the next level. We need Bill Shorten and the Senate to get out of the way and help families continue to thrive. We have a plan and we want to implement it.
MATHIAS CORMANN: All right, happy to take questions.
QUESTION: Mr Cormann the IMF has recommended (inaudible) Is that something the Government would consider?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The IMF, the International Monetary Fund has very strongly commended the Government’s plan to reduce business taxes for all businesses across Australia as an important part of our plan to create more jobs and higher wages. This is what this is all about, working families around Australia need the Australian Senate to pass business tax cuts in full, because that is the only way that we can continue to drive stronger job creation and stronger wages growth into the future. We all want more jobs, more secure jobs and better wages, but they do not grow on trees. They are created and paid for by successful, profitable businesses. The more businesses can be more successful and more profitable, the more Australians will get a job. The more businesses compete for workers, the more they will have to pay to secure their services and as Luke quite rightly pointed out, every additional dollar that the Government takes out of a business by way of business tax, is a dollar that is not available for investment to grow the business. It is not available to pay wages or hire more people. As countries all around the world that we compete with make decisions to lower their business tax rates, we cannot leave Australian businesses behind. More importantly, we cannot leave the millions and millions of Australians working in private sector businesses behind.
QUESTION: The IMF also recommends broader tax reforms, so is something the Government would be taking to COAG for example?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Turnbull Government is totally focused on making sure that our tax burden in the economy is as low as possible. As high as necessary to fund the important services provided by Government which Australians expect, but also as low as possible and to ensure that taxes are raised in the most efficient, least distorting way in the economy so that we can facilitate the strongest possible sustainable growth. Now in terms of the specifics, every year, in fact twice a year in the Budget and in the half yearly Budget update, we provide information about the measures that we believe need to be pursued as part of our national plan for economic growth and jobs. The second Tuesday of May, the next Budget will be delivered and that will be the next instalment of our plan for the economy and jobs.
QUESTION: And to the best of your knowledge will there be further tax cuts on top of the company tax cuts?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, myself we have already indicated that we are very focused on delivering personal income tax cuts for hard working Australians. We strongly believe that Australia needs both. We need to ensure that our businesses can have a globally competitive business tax rate, so that they can continue to be successful and profitable and hire more Australians and pay them better wages. As well as personal income tax cuts for hard working Australian, the Government is currently working through in all of the information and all of the forecasts and all of the data to assess what is affordable in terms of additional tax cuts in the next Budget.
QUESTION: Do the best of our knowledge when was the Prime Minister and Cabinet informed that Barnaby Joyce was going to be a father (inaudible)?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Look, I can tell you personally, the first time I found out was when I saw the picture of Barnaby’s partner on the front page of The Daily Telegraph. I am not aware that anybody else had any prior knowledge.
QUESTION: So you certainly did not know before you saw it in the paper?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I did not know he had a new partner or that he was having a baby no.
QUESTION: What are the Government’s priorities for Parliament next week?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The priorities are for us to continue to implement our plan for jobs and growth and to continue to implement our plan to keep Australia safe and secure. The Senate will have Senate Estimates next week. That is a great part of the Australian democracy and I am very much looking forward to answering all the questions the Opposition might have in Senate Estimates. I hope that they will ask us question about why families around Australia need the Australian Senate to legislate our business tax cuts in full because business tax cuts making sure that Australian business has access to a globally competitive business tax rate means more jobs and higher wages. It also means higher investment returns for people who are invested in superannuation, it also means more revenue for Government, more profitable businesses will end up paying more tax.
QUESTION: Returning to Barnaby Joyce is there anger within the Cabinet at what seemed to be his hypocrisy with not standing down after taking such a hard line on others.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have extensively dealt with all these matters in Canberra this morning and there is not really anything that I have to add to what I said this morning.
QUESTION: There is some talk about a rule applying to the public service, would you support that and have you had any discussions about that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have not had any discussions about that and I am not going to make any running commentary on issues that are just thrown up in media conversation.
QUESTION: Is that something that is a good idea?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to provide a commentary in relation to something I have absolutely no context about. You know from time to time Governments make decisions, Parliaments make decisions to hold inquiries into certain things. As far as the Australian Public Service is concerned we have an outstanding public service here in Australia that provides outstanding services to Australians. We are always focused on making sure that the Australian Public Service is as effective and efficient as possible. That is an ongoing task. I cannot see any need for this sort of inquiry you are suggesting. But again I do not know where that particular proposition is coming from.