Parliament House doorstop

SUBJECTS: Foreign donations; company tax


SUBJECTS: Foreign donations; company tax
MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Today, two significant laws that will curb foreign influence on our politics are expected to pass the Parliament. But the government has only finished half the job. Another part of the package – the ban on foreign donations – is still gathering dust. Why? You have to ask why. It’s because the government apparently wants to go on raking in foreign donations into the Liberal Party’s coffers, completely different to the Labor Party because we’ve said 18 months ago now that we are going to stop taking foreign donations. I’m calling on the government very directly to finish the job, to complete the package of laws that were introduced with great fanfare last December. Labor has worked constructively and hard to get the two other laws - the foreign interference and espionage law, and the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill, into the Parliament, passed through the House of Representatives. They will pass the Senate today. But the other part of the package is not done. The government has not finished the job, they need to get on with it. And when Parliament returns in August, we expect to see that ban on foreign donations brought back to the Parliament for passage.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask you why did Bill Shorten announce Labor policy in a one word answer?
DREYFUS: We’ve got complete consistency on this. Just to be clear – Labor has opposed the government’s company tax cuts for the big end of town, on every occasion that they have been brought to the Parliament. We’ve been very clear, the government has made the wrong choice here, the government should be making a choice for schools and hospitals and not a choice for company tax cuts. I don’t see why anyone should have been surprised by the Leader of the Opposition explaining that we remain opposed to these company tax cuts. We’re still considering the position of companies under $10 million turnover but our position has been clear from the start.
JOURNALIST: Some Labor MPs did seem surprised yesterday.
DREYFUS: Well, I can’t speak for the other Labor MPs but I can say that Bill Shorten’s statements on this have been consistent at all times and nobody in Australia should be surprised when Labor has voted against these company tax cuts on every occasion that they’ve been presented.
JOURNALIST: How big of a challenge will it be for Labor to convince businesses with an annual turnover of more than $2 million to vote for them?
DREYFUS: Well we haven’t announced our position in respect of under $10 million companies. We’re still looking at that. But I would be asking all companies, and all Australians to consider the choices that we make in our tax system. The choices that we make are, can our economy afford tax cuts at this time? And what are we going to do about the half a trillion dollars in debt that is accumulated, more than doubling the debt that has occurred under this government. We’ve got a government that is profligate, we’ve got a government that is fiscally irresponsible. We’ve got a government that is saying to the Australian people, we don’t want to do anything about paying down debt anytime soon. And we’ve got a government that’s saying if there’s a downturn, what is going to happen is that we’re going to press on with company tax cuts that are going to see $17 billion going to the big banks for example. We’re going to do that, and where will the cuts be if there’s a downturn? Australians should know that the cuts will fall on services, they will fall on our schools and on our hospitals. There’s a very clear choice that’s being presented to Australians – and it’s a clear choice that’s been made stark by the government’s insistence on pressing on with these company tax cuts.
JOURNALIST: Some Labor MPs have told the ABC that if the $20 billion gain from repealing the tax cuts funds bigger income tax cuts all will be forgiven. Would you support that?
DREYFUS: I’m not quite sure what they mean by that. We’ve said very clearly on budget reply night, in budget week, in the Leader of the Opposition’s speech, that we think that there should be personal income tax cuts for low and middle-income earners and that those personal income tax cuts should be almost $1000. We are offering to the Australian people as our policy a bigger, better, fairer personal income tax cut. So there is a clear choice that we are making, something that is a recognition of how families are doing it tough. That’s a recognition of the flat wages that we’ve experienced in Australia now for many years. We are offering to the Australian people a clear choice – we’re saying no to those company tax cuts to the big end of town. We’re saying yes to personal income tax cuts for low and middle income earners, and our proposed personal income tax cuts are bigger, better and fairer than those that are being put forward by the government.
Thank you.