It is great to be part of the Turnbull-Joyce-Liberal-Nationals government—and I hear them applauding. They know how proud I am to be part of the Liberal-Nationals-Turnbull-Joyce government. They do know that. And they are cheering. They should be cheering, because we are getting on with the job of boosting growth and boosting investment.
The shadow Treasurer quoted from a speech—a budget speech no less—of a Treasurer from this side of the House. I would like to quote from a Treasurer from the then government benches delivered on 8 May 2012, when the member for Lilley was Treasurer. He started his budget speech on that night, and this is what he said.
The four years of surpluses I announce tonight are a powerful endorsement of the strength of our economy, resilience of our people, and success of our policies.
How did that go? How did that work for the member for Lilley? We all know that Labor would not know a surplus if they fell over one. We all know they have not delivered a surplus for decades. We all know that; it is an absolute fact. The shadow Treasurer opposite knows that. Goodness, gracious—if ever he gets hold of the Treasury benches again, he will continue to produce deficit and debt further than the eye can see.
I rise to speak on the member for McMahon's matter of public importance debate and to place on record the proper plan this Turnbull-Joyce government has for the future of Australia's economy, for the future of Australia's jobs, and to ensure that Australia's more than two million small businesses are central to our economic prosperity.
There are many facets of Australia which make this country great, and I am sure those opposite would acknowledge that fact. Whether it is our entrepreneurial spirit, our sense of a fair go, our natural ability to produce some of the best and most in-demand agricultural and mining commodities, Australia's economy is one that has led the world for more than two decades.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Member for Parkes, I know your patch of Australia, your large patch of New South Wales, has produced much of that agricultural and mining wealth. Well done to the people out in the electorate of Parkes.
There are now people in Australian workforces and at university who have never known a period without growth in the Australian economy. Quarter after quarter, Australia's economy grew, and our gross domestic product increased. Quarter after quarter, small businesses took risks. Farmers took risks. Employers took risks. And the dividend we all reap today are benefits of our 25th year of uninterrupted economic growth.
Today the Australian economy is the world's 12th-largest. It is versatile, it is highly productive, it is multifaceted and it has got relatively low unemployment and relatively high education compared with our trading partners. That is a good thing. That is why our trading partners in the rest of the world look to Australia.
Dr Chalmers: It has the worst underemployment in history.
Mr McCORMACK: Be quiet, Member for Rankin. Our natural commodities and Australia's natural commitment to hard work means that this really is a time of unparalleled opportunity for our country. You might be a farmer, set to take advantage of the coalition government's trifecta of trade agreements—
Ms Butler interjecting—
Mr McCORMACK: I can not understand why the member for Griffith continually carps when I am talking about the importance of the role our farmers play. She should know. I know she comes from Brisbane. I know she comes from a capital city, but farmers feed her and everybody else in the nation besides. She should listen to how important a role they play.
You might be a farmer, set to take advantage of our trifecta of trade agreements in south Asia, with new markets and great opportunities for your products. You might be a student at one of our many world-class Australian universities, studying STEM subjects, science, technology, engineering or mathematics. You might be on the cusp of research that will find a new treatment for a medical issue or a breakthrough in technology to make the lives of other Australians, and many other people besides, a lot easier.
You might be an enterprising small business owner such as Cooma's Jane Cay or Wagga Wagga's Simone Eyles. They are in fashion and coffee respectively. They are great things. We all know that. I am sure the member for Griffith agrees. They use the internet to develop global businesses from regional towns and communities. You might be an employee enjoying the benefits of Australia's relatively low unemployment—lower under us than under those opposite—and easier movement of labour between industries.
No matter your industry or your background, Australians can all take advantage of our economic resilience, our safe low-risk investment paradigm, and see a brighter future for us all. We all want that because, more than anything, enterprise, education and, indeed, enthusiasm are the keys to success in the modern, changing Australian economy.
And, as our national economic landscape adapts to changes in the global market, it is clear that there are great opportunities for Australians, but we need a plan to take advantage of this. We need a plan. That is why the central tenet of the coalition's economic plan—
Mr Stephen Jones: Here it comes!
Mr McCORMACK: 'Here it comes!' the member for Whitlam says of the coalition's 10-year enterprise tax plan. It is so clear. It is all about jobs, growth, investment and lowering company tax rates, while those opposite continue to run scare campaigns. They chatter like parrots as I speak about these important things—I could say 'galahs', but I will be respectful!
And, speaking of an Australia with a bright future, we know that Australians deserve a government which needs to do so much better. We want to continue our economic success. And that is why we are doing much better than those opposite did in the six sorry years that they were in power. Australians deserve a government which wants to create more jobs and ensure opportunities—something which anyone can take advantage of in the Australia of today.
Our economic national plan understands the challenges and opportunities of a modern Australia. We are the nation's leaders. Those in this parliament are the nation's leaders, and that is why we should all get behind our 10-year tax plan, to take advantage of the globalised 21st century.
That is why we have got a plan to cut the company tax rate to allow Australia's small and medium enterprises to employ more people and create better opportunities. That is why our 10-year tax plan is so important. It is a plan which will cut small businesses' taxes. It is a plan which will increase by 870,000 the number of small businesses to which that tax cut applies. And it will mean, more than anything, that Australians have a plan from this government which is about backing them—getting behind them; boosting their confidence; boosting their agility. We want to back the small-business owner, the IGA owner, the cafe owner—the person who has taken a risk, not the one who has just received a cheque from their union mates, picketed outside a shop or heavied somebody who just wanted to get on with the job of a cement pour on a construction site. We want to back real people—real, decent, hardworking, good people who want to get behind this nation and boost it. We want to back the farmer who wants to feed and clothe the world, besides our nation. We want to back the business with a turnover of between $2 million and $10 million to get the company tax rate that they need in order to grow.
We on this side of the House understand small business. We know that a small business might turn over $2 million but that that does not mean that is their profit. That is what those on that side do not understand. They think that a business with a $5 million turnover is in clover! They think that they are rich. But it takes hard work to run a small business. It takes hard work—the sweat of your brow. You are up at sun-up and going home at sundown and then having to get on with the paperwork. I do not think they understand or quite appreciate just what that means.
But I dare say that the shadow Treasurer understands, because in his Hearts & Minds—I borrowed it from the Parliamentary Library; I did not want to actually pay for the thing—he says:
…it's a Labor thing to have the ambition of reducing company tax, because it promotes investment, creates jobs and drives growth.
Well, if he wrote that in his book, why does he not get behind our 10-year enterprise tax plan now? Why doesn't he do it? I just cannot understand it.
There are 2.1 million small businesses in this country. Between them, they employ nearly five million Australians. And, through championing these small businesses, through being their advocate and making their job just a little bit easier, we will see small business grow. We will see more people employed and see more than two decades of uninterrupted economic growth continue.
It is not just the coalition that understands that cuts to the company tax rate are important. Peter Strong, the chief executive of the Council of Small Business said recently:
It gives the opportunity for the senators, and others who are opposed, to have a look at the impact of the tax cuts from the ground and make an assessment.
Mr Strong knows this change to the company tax rate will open opportunities for small business. He gets it. And those on the other side should follow suit. He knows it will encourage growth and he knows it is something that small business owners themselves want. They need it. They demand it. Get on board!
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, gets it. She said of our proposed tax cuts:
I've spoken to countless small business owners about the tax cuts; they all plan to put the money they save back into their business, not into their back-pockets.
So often, small businesses are described as the engine room of the economy; this is certainly true, and if our politicians are truly serious about getting the engine room firing on all cylinders, they'll unite on this important measure and pass the small business tax cuts into law as soon as possible.
That is what Kate Carnell said. I could not agree more.
So the leader of the opposition needs to get on board, absolutely. It is important. It is critical for small businesses, for farmers and, indeed, for our nation.