It’s my great pleasure to rise and ask the excellent minister a question in relation to his portfolio. As the member for Corangamite—I’m very pleased to say that I will continue to be the member for Corangamite after the redistribution boundaries were announced today, but I’ll have more to say about that a little later in the afternoon—I’m absolutely delighted to rise and speak about the incredible way in which our government is backing small business and jobs.
Let’s not forget that this Leader of the Opposition has declared a war on business. They were his words—a war on business. The 90 per cent of Australians who work in the private sector for a small, medium or large business know they have no friend in the Leader of the Opposition and in this disgraceful Labor Party, which has deserted business in droves. We now know that they are going to reverse some very important company tax deductions that we have delivered already to small business. Our aim is to drive company tax rates down to 25 per cent to make us competitive, to ensure we are not going to drive jobs offshore, to make us globally competitive, and to drive investment, jobs and opportunity, but what the Labor Party wants to do is drive those jobs offshore. The Labor Party is so unprincipled, so removed from the Labor Party of old, that it doesn’t even have the courage to stand up for coalmine workers. That’s what this Labor Party is all about now.
I’m incredibly pleased about our plan to cut taxes for small and medium-sized enterprises, and large companies, to 25 per cent and to increase the unincorporated business discount to 16 per cent. These policies include the instant asset tax write-off, where every single item can be written off to the tune of up to $20,000. That’s made an enormous difference to business. I’m so proud of what we’re doing in the Corangamite electorate and of the way in which our investments in small and medium-sized businesses are resonating. Look at some of the wonderful announcements we’ve made under the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages—$20 million investing in 21 businesses. They include $5 million for LeMond Composites, which will be Australia’s very first carbon fibre manufacturing facility. There are many other wonderful investments. In fact, last week I was at Austeng and declared open the Barton engine, which is being supported under the RJIP fund. That also has the potential to turn waste heat into electricity, with incredible applications. It’s a very exciting innovation and a really good example of how we on the ground in Geelong are making a real difference. The Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund and recent manufacturing announcements show our support for really important businesses like Carbon Revolution and Boundary Bend Limited.
There are wonderful announcements in our budget. There is $50 million more for rail as we grow. As we are now the fastest-growing region in Australia, we desperately need that infrastructure. In total, $150 million has been announced by the Commonwealth for the rail duplication project in Southern Geelong. There’s only a paltry $10 million from state Labor, which is really pathetic. As part of our growth, as part of our future, there are other wonderful investments, like $20 million in our new international terminal. This is why our economy is transitioning as it is and why there is such excitement. Victoria is about to receive its second international airport, at Avalon, and we are so proud.
Right across the economy we are making a huge difference, led by this minister, to small and medium-sized businesses. I ask the minister how the Australian government is encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises to innovate and create jobs, including in my electorate of Corangamite, which has been going absolutely gangbusters since the Turnbull government was elected in 2013.