The PRESIDENT I inform the Senate that at 8.30 am today six proposals were received in accordance with standing order 75. The question of which proposal would be submitted to the Senate was determined by lot. As a result, I inform the Senate that the following matter has been received from Senator Bernardi. Pursuant to standing order 75, I propose the following matter of public importance be submitted to the Senate for discussion:
The passage of business tax cuts in the United States of America and the pressing need for the Australian Parliament to provide significant tax relief for Australian businesses.
SENATOR CORY BERNARDI: Lower business tax rates can fundamentally address some of the key ills that have been afflicting our workers, households, cost of living and economy more generally over the past decade and particularly since the end of the mining boom around 2012. These are the very kinds of economic reforms that the Hawke-Keating and Howard government years successfully instituted for all Australians.
Cutting business taxes is the kind of economic reform and mindset this country urgently needs to return to the path of prosperity. We need to return to it today. The budgetary Berlin Wall of Nick Xenophon, Labor and the Greens cannot sustain business tax rates that are now at entirely uncompetitive levels by world standards whilst also pushing instead for artificial hikes in minimum and other wage rates to try and address sluggish wage growth. The evidence of this is apparent to anyone who has run a small business, who has employed people, who understands the economy and how it functions. Unfortunately, there are too few in this place, too few on the cross-benches and too few on the left side of politics who want to confront the reality of what we need to do.
This type of discredited central planning or command-and-control structure never works in the medium or long run. It simply destroys jobs rather than having the tide lift all boats. Of course, the current opposition aspires to hold government, and their ideological followers from the Nick Xenophon Team and the Greens simply don’t seem to care about the medium or long term. The political Left want the short-term sugar hit of populism in order to reclaim power, to centralise more power within their ranks and to move across to the government benches by winning the next election.
Higher business tax rates are a disincentive for our young people trying to get jobs, they’re a disincentive for businesses to invest in this country and to continue to reinvest in this country, and a they’re a disincentive for mums trying to re-enter the workforce. Wage increases can only be sustained if they are driven or underpinned by similar productivity improvement. Otherwise we all suffer—particularly our young people seeking a chance to get their first job or to move into a better-paying job.
The reality is this: the more businesses we have competing for labour in the market, the more people we will have employed and the more attractive it will be for an employer to pay them higher wages in order to meet the competitive demands.
I know that, as an employer in a small business, you do whatever you can to keep your good employees, whether it’s giving them additional benefits, preferential hours or additional wages. But you can only do that if you are making a fair profit. Too many businesses in this country seem to be working for the benefit of the government—working for the benefit of a range of government departments and pen pushers—rather than to the benefit of the economy overall. We need to change that. Cutting company tax and business taxes will be a massive step in the right direction.
SENATOR JAMES PATERSON: I find myself yet again following Senator Bernardi in a debate about economic matters. I thank him for bringing this very important economic matter to the attention of the chamber today because he’s absolutely right. The case for company tax cuts in Australia was already very, very strong, and no-one on this side of the chamber needed any further convincing, but, as Senator Bernardi has pointed out, the success of the Trump administration in legislating massive tax cuts for companies and individuals has brought that into even further and even starker vision for Australians.
We already knew that Australia’s corporate tax rate was high and uncompetitive. We already knew that it was way out of step with the OECD and becoming increasingly out of step every single year. As major OECD nations like the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and others continued to cut and reduce their corporate income tax, Australia’s became increasingly out of step, high and uncompetitive. From the most recent statistics, even before taking into account the US tax cuts, Australia was in the top handful of high corporate tax rates in the OECD—only Germany, Belgium, France and the United States were higher. As we know, very shortly the United States will be lower. There are many countries below Australia in that OECD list of rankings that you wouldn’t normally think of as having lower and more-competitive corporate tax rates than Australia, particularly Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and Denmark, and the Netherlands and Luxembourg, but it’s true that Australia’s corporate income tax rate is even higher than those.
But we already knew all of that, and we knew that courtesy of people like Ken Henry, who in his review of the taxation system for the Rudd government identified the corporate tax rate as being very high and uncompetitive almost a decade ago—and it has only become more so in the years since. He also identified that, of all the taxes that the Australian government levies, the company tax is one of the least efficient—that is, the deadweight loss, the loss to the Australian economy, of raising $1 of revenue through the corporate income tax makes it one of the least efficient ones compared to others. It causes more displacement, it causes more ill effects and it reduces economic activity more than dollars raised from other forms of taxation.
So there was already a pretty compelling case from Ken Henry, there was already a pretty compelling case from where we stand in the OECD and there was even a very articulate case made in recent years by none other than Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen, when they were in government, for the need to cut the corporate tax rate in Australia. We already knew from historical records that when nations, including Australia, cut the corporate tax rate it stimulated economic activity, increased investment, increased jobs and flowed through to higher wages. We know from economic research that all of this is true. But now we have a very powerful real-world example from a very relevant neighbour and friend of Australia, the United States. It has put this issue into very, very stark focus.
The United States has legislated massive corporate and personal income tax cuts. This is relevant to Australia not only because the United States is the world’s largest economy, and that’s obviously an important factor, and not only because the United States is a competitor for global capital—and a competitive corporate tax rate is an important means by which we will compete with countries like the United States for global capital—but also because the United States is by far and away the largest foreign investor in Australia. Why is that important? Why is it important that the largest foreign investor in Australia has just cut its corporate tax rate? An investor in the United States who invests in countries like the United States and Australia, in contemplating where they’re going to make their big investment next year, deciding between an equivalent investment in Australia and the United States, will now know that they can get a relatively better return on that investment in the United States than they would have received in Australia, because the corporate tax rate in the United States is now going to be considerably lower, at 21 per cent, than Australia’s rate of 30 per cent for large companies.
So that investor will think, ‘Previously, I might have invested in Australia.’ The corporate tax rate in Australia used to be 30 per cent compared to the United States’ 35 per cent, where they would get, relatively speaking, a better return on an equal investment because of Australia’s lower company tax rate. But now that same investor making that same choice will be much more sympathetic and more likely to invest at home in the United States, given there is a nine per cent advantage in the corporate tax rate in the United States. So by far and away our largest source of foreign investment in this country—those investors—will now be contemplating whether or not Australia remains a good destination for investment.
If we were to lose that investment or even if that investment was to decline slightly, that would have profound implications for Australians. We want foreign investment and we particularly want foreign investment from likeminded, close nations like the United States. It is a good thing when they come here and invest. When they come here and invest, they do so to create jobs, to create employment, and they provide products and services to Australian citizens, and we benefit from that. So it is vitally important that Australia has a company tax rate which is at least in the ballpark of the United States’ company tax rate—let alone being way, way above it, as it will now be if we don’t take action, if this parliament doesn’t legislate the government’s enterprise tax plan.
We had a powerful example of the kinds of benefits that the United States will reap from the company tax cuts that the Trump administration has legislated. Wouldn’t it be nice if Australians could enjoy these benefits too? I will read from a selected list of the companies that have announced the actions they are going to take after the Trump administration decided to reduce its corporate tax rate. One is American Airlines. After the Trump administration’s tax reform bill passed Congress, they announced that a $1,000 bonus would be paid to all of their employees in the first quarter of 2018. AT&T, a major telecommunications company, announced a $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 US employees, and is also going to invest an additional billion dollars in the United States in the 2018 year. The Bank of America Corporation announced a one-time bonus of $1,000 for US employees earning up to $150,000 a year, which amounts to about 145,000 employees. Boeing has announced $300 million in charitable giving, workplace development and workplace facility enhancements. There are many others.
Comcast, another major telecommunications company, announced a $1,000 bonus for more than 100,000 workers. They said they would hire thousands more employees and invest over $50 billion in infrastructure. Disney, the entertainment company, announced a one-time $1,000 cash bonus for its more than 125,000 employees. ExxonMobil announced $50 billion in new US investments over the next five years. FedEx announced over $200 million in pay rises, about two-thirds of which will go to hourly team members—they are, the employees who are on the lowest wages—and they’ll contribute $1.5 billion to the company’s pension plan, which will ultimately go to its workers upon their retirement.
JP Morgan announced it would hire 4,000 new employees and open up to 400 new Chase branches, including increasing the minimum wage from $15 an hour to $18 an hour for 22,000 of their employees. Lowe’s, a major department store, announced up to a $1,000 bonuses for more than 260,000 employees. They said they would expand their maternity and parental leave benefits. UPS, the distribution company, said they were going to invest $5 billion dollars in their pension plans and $7 billion dollars in a new smart logistics network. Visa announced they would hike their 401K—the equivalent of superannuation for US workers, the rate at which they match their contributions—from six per cent to 10 per cent. These are all the really tangible benefits from major US companies to their employees, to their shareholders and to Americans who will benefit from this increased investment. Wouldn’t it be nice if Australia could share in these benefits too? The truth is that we could share in these benefits.
I want to share the announcement of one other company, which is Apple. Apple has announced that they are going to bring back the vast majority of their hundreds of billions of dollars of offshore cash into the United States.
They estimate that they have $269 billion of cash outside the United States, and they’re going to bring that back onshore. That’s going to have a couple of benefits. Obviously that money can then be invested in Apple’s business in the United States, in their employees, returned to their shareholders, invested in new products, in R&D, but it is also going to result in a one-time tax payment to the US government of $38 billion. So, a tax cut by the US Congress is going to result in a massive once-off payment from Apple to the US government in the form of higher tax payments. Wouldn’t it be nice if Australia could share in this? The answer is we can, and all it requires is for this chamber to take action in passing the government’s enterprise tax plan.
Above Source: Attributed to Parliament of Australia website Including Image/ website is provided under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence. Chamber Senate on 7/02/2018 Item MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – Taxation
Hi Sky here from Scorching: Something is going on in the Liberal Party, Trump Loyalists seem to be trying to push Trump’s tax Agenda. This a huge Turn around compared to last year. So we have Scott Morrison, Cory Bernardi, Jane Hume and James Patterson who want a Trump Tax and I’m sure there are more.
Trump is starting to roll heads in Washington and the Elite’s are in serious trouble as Trump’s Secret special Forces start to uncover some serious stuff about the Trump Election. The Clintons and bad apple FBI Agents have been trying to take down an Elected President. I feel Confident Trump will take down the Elite and the Tentacles will reach Parliament house.
I suggest you watch fox news, they are the only media outlet who are covering this Trump story in full. Aussie and US Fake Media are Silent because they are shitting themselves.
Source: Attributed to Parliament of Australia website Including Image/ website is provided under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence. Chamber Senate on 7/02/2018 Item MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – Taxation