26 March 2018

Question to Kelly O’Dwyer – Economic Growth

Ms HENDERSON (Corangamite) (14:34): My question is to the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services: Will the minister update the House as to how the government plans to grow the economy for the benefit of all Australians? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Ms O’DWYER (Higgins—Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Minister for Women and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) (14:34): I thank the member for Corangamite for her question. She is one of the hardest working members in this place for her constituents. She knows how important it is to drive growth, to increase investment and to boost jobs in this country.

The government has already alleviated tax pressure for middle-income Australians by increasing the threshold from $80,000 to $87,000. We have cut taxes for small- and medium-sized enterprises down to 27½ cents in the dollar, although we want it to drop further to 25 per cent. And we have seen the creation under our government of hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

The government wants to continue these gains in employment by legislating tax cuts for all companies. But sadly, those opposite refuse to support us. Their stance isn’t based on longstanding principles. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Treasurer have previously supported company tax cuts. So, why the change of heart? Well, the Leader of the Opposition is all about tax and spend. So ferocious is his appetite to slug Australians with new and higher taxes, more than $200 billion at last count, he is willing to slip his hand in the pocket of low-income earners in this country—pensioners, part-pensioners, war widows and self-funded retirees—through his new retiree tax policy.

This is a policy that takes refunds away from 1.1 million Australians, around one million of whom have got a taxable income of less than $37,000. Upon this announcement, the shadow Treasurer assured everybody that it was a well-targeted measure. Yet in the same breath he was forced to admit that more than 200,000 pensioners would suffer. Presumably, he also knows that close to 40 per cent of those pensioners are women over the age of 70—grandmothers using refunds of their own taxes to meet day-to-day living expenses or to buy presents for their grandkids.

We hear rumours today that those opposite are going to change their policy, a policy that they described only a week ago as ‘carefully designed, properly designed, sensible’. The fact is that Labor are snatching at the handbags of thousands of Australian grandmothers. They have lied about the impact of their policy, they continue to lie today and those Australians know that the only people who are prepared to protect their retirement income are sitting on this side of the House.

We will protect those people in this country who aspire—we will protect their retirement income— (Time expired)