MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - Income Tax


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (17:36): Labor lies. Australians have come to understand those two words very, very clearly. I go back to the Keating Labor government. The Keating Labor government thought they were going to get done over in the 1993 election, so they actually legislated for a tax cut in the dying days of that parliament. Signed in blood, it was passed through both houses of parliament, where Labor had a majority. But, unexpectedly, Mr Keating won the 1993 election. The first bit of legislation they introduced when they got back into power was to repeal that piece of legislation which legislated the tax cut.

Then you've only got to go to more recent times: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' What was the first thing that happened? There was a bill to impose a tax. At the last election, it was, 'The government's going to privatise and sell Medicare.' Everybody who understood these things knew that was a lie, but, between the unions, GetUp!, the Labor Party and the Greens, Australians at election day only thought, 'Oh, we're a bit worried about this because so many people—Labor, the Greens, the unions and GetUp!—have said the government's going to sell Medicare,' and they were cautious in their vote. But everybody who knew anything about it knew that that was an abject and outright lie, as has been proved by subsequent events. Never, at any stage, was the government intending to privatise or sell Medicare. So those are just four Labor lies, and the mantra—it's in the Australian vernacular these days—really is those two words, 'Labor lies'. So for anything Mr Shorten says, anything Mr Shorten promises, the people of Australia will know that those promises come within the parameters of 'Labor lies'.

On the tax cuts that Senator Gallacher spoke about, when Mr Shorten was a minister in a government, in the economic areas that dealt with these things, he promised tax cuts for business for the obvious reason that if we're going to have investment in Australia—and investment creates jobs for Australians—then we have to be competitive in all things, including the rate of tax we charge on investment and companies. Mr Shorten knew that. That's why he was talking about it. That's why Labor governments back in the Hawke and Keating days actually reduced company taxes. They knew that to have a prosperous and working Australia you did need to encourage the investment of capital.

I'm not terribly bright, but you don't have to be an economic graduate to work out that, if you are a multinational company and you've got a lot of money to invest in a country in building a factory or building anything that will create jobs in that country, you can go anywhere—you can go to Switzerland, France, the United States, Sweden, South America or wherever you like—and do the same things: build a factory and create the same sorts of profits for your company. But if in one country you're going to pay 40 per cent on your profits and in another country you're going to pay 10 per cent on your profits, where are you going to put your investment? As I said, you don't have to be terribly bright to work out that these multinational corporations that invest in Australia and create jobs are going to go where they can get the best deal for their shareholders.

Mr Shorten understood that a few short years ago. Suddenly he's taken the populist approach. He hopes that most Australians will look only at their next pay packet and not to the long-term future. He's running around promising everyone huge tax cuts that he can't afford, that he can't pay for. He just hopes that people won't remember the underlying principle that Labor lies. Once Mr Shorten is in power—should the unthinkable happen—the first thing he will do is renege on the promises that he has made. The second thing he will do, if he sees investment going somewhere other than Australia, is start making it attractive for multinational companies to come to Australia and invest in Australia. Why do I know that he'll do that? Because he already advocated that a few years ago when he was a minister who was in charge of those sorts of economic things. Then Prime Minister Ms Gillard said the same things. They understood. Why have they now changed their tune completely? It is hypocrisy at its greatest. They are hoping that Australians are silly enough to believe them for a little period of time, but I think most Australians simply do understand that Labor lies.

Time doesn't allow me to go through some of the other stupidities in the Labor tax policy, but I will dwell for a moment on Labor's plan to stop Australians receiving refunds on tax paid on their share dividends. This is the reintroduction of double taxation. Mr Shorten is running around telling everyone, 'This will affect only the wealthy.' I'm sorry, but he can't have talked to older people and he can't have talked to people who live in their later years on the returns from investments they made during their working years. They get a substantial part of their income from share dividends. As one person quoted to me, they now find that, because of Mr Shorten's plan, they are going to lose $35,000 of their very meagre income, which is not much beyond that. If Mr Shorten had spoken to retirees, as I have recently, he would know that this is probably the most unpopular tax he has ever talked about.

I for one quite like Mr Shorten promising this, because it has clearly sent a message to older people who've worked hard during their lives and saved some money and put it aside so they can have a better future in their later years. They now know, 100 per cent, that Labor is not for them, that Labor lies. So I suppose, in a perverse sort of way, I appreciate Mr Shorten's promise on double taxation, the franking credits. It has galvanised so many older people that I know to not muck around with their vote next time and not be seduced by the Labor lies but to understand that, if Mr Shorten is Prime Minister, their standard of living and their income will drop dramatically. It's the same with the new taxes on superannuation. This is a direct assault on people who've worked hard during their lives, putting money aside for their savings. They are finding that the Labor Party are introducing some $25 billion worth of new taxes on their superannuation, lowering the annual non-concessional contributions et cetera.

You can only spend money on the Barrier Reef, as Senator Gallacher mentioned, and on education and health if you have an economy that is growing as it has grown under the Abbott and Turnbull governments. We are powering ahead economically. We are scheduled to get surpluses the year after next. Those surpluses will then go into a fund that can spend money on education, spend money on health and do whatever needs to be done on the Great Barrier Reef, amongst every other thing. You can only do that if you've got the money, and you'll only have the money if Australians continue to return the Liberal-National Party to government and take no notice of the Labor lies.

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