10 May 2017
Speech - #2017012, 2017

Address to the Institute of Public Accountants & Canberra Business Chamber, Annual Federal Budget Breakfast, Parliament House, Canberra

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Thanks Steve [Price] for that introduction.

I am excited to join you all and tell you a bit more about the Coalition Government's plans for jobs, for growth and for the future.

Ours is a plan for fairness, opportunity and security no matter who you are or where you live.

Australians know if our economy is strong then there are more jobs.

If our economy grows, then mums and dads have more money in their pockets and small businesses can pursue their dreams.

And to help grow our economy, we have a plan to help Australia get back on track and live within its means.

Last night's was a Budget for all Australians – both in the cities and the regions.

Above all, this is a Budget for Australia's future. So I am excited to share this vision with you.

Respecting future taxpayers

The Budget respects future taxpayers and is projected to return to surplus in the 2020-2021 financial year.

We have quarantined the Future Fund, stopped borrowing for recurrent spending and are making sure taxpayers' money is invested in infrastructure assets.

Because Budgets are about choices. So we have used this Budget, as the Treasurer said, to make the right choices for better days ahead.

By making these choices, the Coalition Government is building the Australia of tomorrow, with jobs, families and small business firmly in the driver's seat – today, tomorrow, every day.

Small business

I want to start by talking about small business.

Every day, more than 5.6 million Australians go to work in one of our 3.2 million small businesses.

Across Australia, our small businesses make up around 99 per cent of all businesses in our country. From sole traders to family enterprises, each of them is a story of hard-work and dedication. Each of them has taken a risk, just like I did for eight years before I entered Parliament. Each of them got there on the sweat of their own endeavours.

And just like the Budgets of this Coalition Government in recent years, this one backs small business – our local job creators.

Tax cuts and instant asset write-off

That's why we cut the tax rate for small and medium businesses.

In 2016-17, the rate has been cut to 27.5 per cent – the lowest it's been for many decades.

The tax rate will then be phased down to 25 per cent by 2026-27. Together with the tax discount for unincorporated small businesses, these changes benefit more than 3 million businesses.

And just yesterday I guided this legislation through the House of Representatives, which means our small business plan is now enshrined in law.

In guiding that legislation through I told the Parliament about the hundreds of small business owners I have met in the past few months as part of my national small business roadshow.

"We appreciate the Federal Government reducing the company tax rate to 27.5 per cent. We would like to see more of this coming. That will give us cash flow to invest in equipment and machinery, to train our staff."

Those are the words of Barry and Lina Salem – of Salem Power Engineering Services – in Western Sydney. I toured their small business with Alex Hawke a few weeks ago and saw firsthand how they take young people, give them an apprenticeship and give them a go.

Small business is central in our plan for fairness, opportunity and security.

In 44 communities within 24 electorates in recent weeks, I've also heard how small business operators use the instant asset write-off for business assets and replace or upgrade machinery or equipment.

"It helped immensely… Necessary for us to produce good food, for staff morale, and it actually was a chain reaction."

That's what Alana Laliotitis describes of the impact of Kouzina Greco's new equipment thanks to our instant asset write-off programme.

She runs a terrific Greek restaurant in Parramatta with her husband Peter which I recently visited alongside Defence Minister Marise Payne. Alana told me it helps get through the busy days.

That's why we are continuing to support small business by extending the instant asset write-off for a further 12 months. To help small business owners like Alana, like Barry and Lina, invest in their business, grow and create local jobs.

Our recent changes to the small business tax rate also redefined small business.

The Liberals and Nationals in Government have real experience in small business. We know what it's like to take a risk and – importantly – to hire someone whose wage you pay regardless of how much the business turns over that month.

That's why we know small business doesn't stop at a $2 million turnover.

By redefining small business to a $10 million turnover, thousands more can qualify for the instant asset write-off.

This will improve cash flow for more small businesses, helping them to invest in their business and replace or upgrade assets and – above all – have a go.

Reducing red tape

Another thing I've heard – loud and clear, wherever I go – from Bunbury with Nola Marino to Benalla with Bridget McKenzie, in Batemans Bay with Ann Sudmalis to Belmont with Sarah Henderson – is that something has to be done about red-tape.

Small businesses know some paperwork is needed but would like Governments to do more to reduce the burden. I am sure that is something many of you in small business here understand.

The Coalition Government has already cut $5.8 billion in red tape – easily eclipsing our $1 billion per year target – but we know there's more work to do, and so do you.

I understand what it's like to open your doors very early of a morning, to close them very late at night, then go home spend a little time with family and then get stuck into the paperwork.

So I'm pleased to say there's some relief on the way for Business Activity Statements.

The Simpler BAS will reduce GST compliance costs by reducing reporting requirements from seven to three – GST on purchases, GST on sales and total sales – from 1 July 2017.

But the Federal Government cannot cut red tape alone.

Last night, we also announced an initiative to encourage State and Territory Governments to make similar inroads in cutting red tape. The Federal Government will provide up to $300 million over two years as an incentive to States which reduce unnecessary regulations.

Above all, this is about getting out of the way of small business and letting them do what they do best.

Big-picture

Small business is central to the Government's plan, and it's backed up with a vision for Australia's future.

It's a future in which our children and our children's children can take advantage of the best opportunities.

A future in which health and education spending is needs-based, fair and funded.

Our vision starts by building the infrastructure our country deserves, so we are committing more than $70 billion to projects across the country.

Last night, we committed $5.3 billion to establish the Western Sydney Airport Corporation – another Coalition step to deliver this vital project.

We will establish a $10 billion National Rail Programme, plus $20 million for business cases for faster rail connecting capital cities and major regional centres.

As a country MP I am also very excited that we will deliver the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, an $8.4 billion investment opening up a corridor of commerce from farm gate to Asian plate.

Education

Infrastructure creates opportunities but education is the great enabler.

Through delivering a needs-based model of funding for schools – with investment increasing year on year over the next decade – we are skilling our kids with the tools they need for the future, from today.

It's $18.6 billion over the next decade to make sure schools funding is needs-based, equitable and targeted.

Health

So too, our investment in health builds on what Australians need the most. As I always say, when you have a healthy nation, you have a happy nation.

The other important choice of this Budget is to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme – a $55.7 billion investment.

Banking reform

And we are also reforming the banking system so consumers and taxpayers get a fairer deal.

We have announced a six basis point levy on big banks' liabilities, bringing in $6.2 billion, a Productivity Commission inquiry into competition in the banking sector and establish a dispute-resolution facility for banks to make the system fairer.

We will establish a Banking Executive Accountability Regime and have tougher penalties for concealing misconduct.

The ACCC will also have a dedicated team to investigate banking competition, as well as giving customers greater access to their banking data.

These choices take action now to make the system fairer.

The revenue we receive will fund our path to balance over the forward estimates.

Closing remarks

These are our choices for fairness, opportunity and security for all Australians – whether that's in our capital cities or our country towns.

These are our choices to back small business to create jobs and opportunities.

These are our choices to build the infrastructure a modern Australia requires.

These are our choices to give Australian students and those in the healthcare system the support they deserve.

These are our choices to responsibly fund our way back to balance.

These are our choices for Australia.

So thank you to the IPA and the Chamber for inviting me here today.

I look forward to the panel discussion later this morning.

Thank you.