SUBJECT/S: Budget 2016

TONY BURKE, SHADOW FINANCE MINISTER AND MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS: Thanks very much. Earlier today, Mathias Cormann, on radio, got angry about $100 billion worth of what he describes as Labor taxes. He seems completely unaware that about 12 hours ago his Government adopted more than half of them.

Last night in the Budget, the Government adopted a series of policies Labor had been putting forward. But importantly, on one which was not put forward by Labor, which is their proudest boast, it is completely uncosted and unfunded.

There’s been a lot of talk about the impact of what they want to describe as a ‘small business tax cut’. Now, to the extent that it applies to small businesses, we’ll back that in. But what they want to do, is, every year, change the definition of small business so in seven years’ time a company with a turnover of a billion dollars gets counted as a small business. 

If this was a chaser sketch, you’d think ‘oh, maybe they’ve gone a bit too far’. No one would characterise a small business as being a business that has a turnover of a billion dollars. But in Malcolm Turnbull’s world, a company with a billion dollars turnover gets to be a small business under the proposals they announced last night.

They keep talking ‘ten year plan’. They’ve modelled, allegedly, the impact on GDP. What they won’t tell us, is how much it will cost the Budget. This is a budget where: if you’re on a really high income, it’s a great budget for you; if you’re a massive business, it’s a budget you couldn’t have dreamed of; but if you’re an ordinary Australian, this is a budget that either offers you nothing or worse.

If you’re a single parent on $87,000 with two kids in high school, even after you’ve got the tax cut of the $80,000 to $87,000 change in the threshold, you’re still $4,500 worse off every year. That’s what this Government is in fact leaving ordinary Australians with. If you’re on a million dollars, you get the $16,000 tax cut. If you’re the biggest business in the country, you end up being classified as a small business.

REPORTER: The Government says the eventual decrease in the company tax to 25 per cent will make Australia more internationally competitive. Do you think that’s something we need to look at, making businesses more internationally competitive?

BURKE: If you start with the values question of do you want taxes to be lower? Everyone will say ‘yes we want that.’ What you then have to do in a Budget, is work out what your priorities are.

Now, bizarrely on this one, for the biggest businesses in Australia, they’re giving them a tax cut but keeping secret what the Budget impact will be. So, they’ll let us know the Budget impact for everything else, but for this 10 year plan – and you look at the Budget speech, they keep referring to it as a 10 year plan. In the Budget overview, something like a dozen times they refer to the 10 year plan – if it’s a proper plan, how much will it cost? What will the cost be to the Budget of the company tax cut? They didn’t tell us last night; it’s not in any of the Budget papers. If it’s a ten year plan, what’s the ten year cost?

Ok? Thank you.

Tony Burke