MINISTER FOR REVENUE AND FINANCIAL SERVICES:
It is really wonderful to have the Prime Minister in town here in South Yarra, in the heart of Victoria, in the premier retail and hospitality area of this state.
In my electorate there are around about 21,000 small businesses that work hard each and every day and they are going to benefit very directly from the tax cut that has just been achieved in the Parliament.
We met just today with Mace who is a local small business owner. He makes around about 1,200 coffees on a Saturday morning and his business is one that will benefit very directly from the tax cut that has been given by this Government because of our achievement.
So PM, it is wonderful that you could deliver that great news in person to him and to his employees who are all absolutely delighted to have you here.
Thanks Kelly – it is great to be here with you and as the Minister for Revenue, no-one knows more about tax than you.
Yes, what we have succeeded in doing is delivering the first three-years, the first stage of our Enterprise Tax Plan. So all of the tax cuts that we promised we would deliver in this term of Government have now been delivered. For business, small and medium businesses, and for middle income earners, personal income tax cuts are benefiting half a million middle income earners.
We are delivering and we are getting things done through the Parliament. Many said it could not be done. And another thing Kelly that I know you have a special interest is child care reforms.
MINISTER FOR REVENUE AND FINANCIAL SERVICES:
We have succeeded in getting our child care reforms which will make child care more affordable.
But last night the achievement in the Senate, and we pay great respect and thanks to our Senate team and of course the negotiating skills of Mathias Cormann in achieving this. What we have been able to achieve now is the support for businesses up to $50 million turnover which includes 883,000 companies, employing in total when you add up the unincorporated businesses 6.5 million Australians. That is more than half the workforce.
Now all of those businesses are going to have more money to be able to invest. Just as Mace was saying to us in the café – he’ll have more to invest, more money to grow, have a greater ability to employ more staff. It is an absolute stimulus to the economy. This is why governments in the past and countries around the world are lowering business taxes because they know that at this time we need to give more stimulus to economic growth.
So this is a great achievement for business, for jobs, for opportunity.
Now, before we go to some questions I want to make some observations about the floods. The Tropical Cyclone Debbie has come – it is now ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie – but the flooding that has followed is of a very, very dangerous scale in parts of Southern Queensland, right through Queensland in fact and indeed in Northern New South Wales.
I was in touch yesterday with the Mayor of Lismore, together with the Federal Member Kevin Hogan. I have just been in touch with Kevin this morning and the flood waters he tells me are starting to drop somewhat in Lismore but in many parts of the country you will see floodwaters continuing to rise over the next days.
This is a very dangerous time in these flooded areas. I want to say to everybody who is affected by these floods – do not go into flooded waters. Do not cross flooded roads. If it is flooded – forget it. Follow the advice of the local authorities - they know what they are doing, they will keep you safe.
We’ve had two fatalities, two women in New South Wales have died as a result of these floods and our thoughts and prayers are with their families. This is going to be a tough time for them but the important thing is that everyone should stay safe. Take care, look out for your family, look out for your neighbours. Don’t go into those flooded waters – that is the most dangerous part of these natural disasters, getting caught up in flood waters as we have seen.
I want to thank the emergency services who as they always do show the very best of Australia and Australian spirit right at the time when nature flings her worst at us.
I also want to acknowledge the great work of the ADF. Our defence forces have been prepared for this cyclone. It is the biggest pre-deployment of the ADF in the advance of a natural disaster ever.
I was up there on Thursday in Northern Queensland and I saw the scrupulous planning, meticulous planning that went into that.
So we were well prepared but nonetheless this has been a very big and dangerous cyclone and the impact is going to be felt for some time. But all Australians will get behind those communities that are affected, support them in their resilience and determination to clean up and recover and get back on their feet.
And I just say finally, in terms of tourism, just remember, whether it is The Whitsundays or Northern New South Wales, the flood will subside, the clean-up will occur and it is back in business. The best thing we can all do is take a holiday there and support those communities that will need a boost after the floods.
Prime Minister, on the business tax cuts – the Australian Industry Group isn’t happy that business hasn’t got a flat 25 per cent cut across the board. Have you failed them?
I saw the decision by the Senate, by the Parliament was welcomed by the Australian Industry Group.
This is the first part of our Enterprise Tax Plan. It is exactly in accordance with our plan. We have legislated the first three years of our plan which is all of the tax cuts that we committed to deliver in this term of Parliament.
How is the Government going to afford this one off payment to all pensioners as part of the deal with Nick Xenophon?
The cost is around $260 million and it is certainly very affordable. It will all be covered in the Budget.
And did the Government consider an emissions intensity scheme as part of this deal? And if not, why not given that some of the big industry groups are supporting it?
What we are doing is delivering the leadership on energy that Labor has failed to deliver.
Here in this state we are seeing the sad day when the workers of Hazelwood leave that power station for the last time.
Now that is a consequence of the Labor Party’s complete failure to lead on energy.
Daniel Andrews has allowed that enormous baseload power station to close. Now it is a very old power station, we understand that but he has allowed it to close and put nothing in its place - no storage, no backup. Gas is going to be the fuel that takes over from coal, many have said – hard to do that in Victoria where the state government has locked up all the gas resources of Victoria.
We are taking action. We are building Snowy Hydro 2.0. We are increasing the generation capacity of the Snowy Hydro Scheme by 50 per cent.
We are unlocking the gas available in the domestic market. Taking decisive action to ensure that gas is available for peaking plants.
Had I not taken that action, Victorians would have been at risk of blackouts this coming summer.
So we have been able to take that leadership where Labor has failed.
We are leading, Labor is failing.
Just while you are on Victoria, there is a motion at the conference today requesting that the Federal Government guarantees 20 per cent infrastructure funding to Victoria and the motion itself says: “Lets end this rip-off”. Do you agree that you’ve been ripping off Victorians and is it embarrassing that the Liberal Party believe that you are?
Well the person who has been ripping off Victorians of course is Daniel Andrews. He doesn’t want any money from the Federal Government to assist with the Melbourne Metro and most extraordinarily, he has refused, cancelled the East West Link – well over $1 billion committed by the Federal Government. They actually had the money. Not only did they refuse to proceed with the East West Link, they used $1 billion of Victorians’ hard earned and hard paid taxes to cancel the contract. Never has so much money been spent in not building something as was by Daniel Andrews. He is a profligate. He’s reckless. The failures in infrastructure in this state are due to the failures of the Labor Government.
Would you guarantee 20 per cent to Victoria though?
We are providing Victoria with substantial support in infrastructure. The challenge that we face, and I know that people are frustrated by federal and state criticisms, but the fact remains infrastructure in Victoria is built by the state government. We need a willing partner.
We have reached out and sought to support the Victorian Government and partner with them. I have offered funding to the Victorian Government on several occasions now where they have rejected it.
The lack of imagination, the lack of commitment, the lack of conviction, the highly partisan politics that characterizes this very left-wing government – that’s what is holding Victoria back.
What Victoria needs is a new premier, a new government and Matthew Guy is the man.
Thank you very much.