WAYNE SWAN, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: Last week, the Business Council issued this two-paragraph statement.
Two paragraphs to justify the $65 billion heist on the Australian people by the business executives of this country.
Their ultimate aim is to milk our economy dry. Effectively they will do this. They will push up tax rates for other Australians, and they will take vital money away from health and education.
These executives are paid more than a combined $65 million a year – $65 million a year and they want a massive tax cut for the richest and most powerful corporates in the world, which will have no demonstrable effect on jobs and investment.
And this comes from a group of companies, many of whom are actually engaged in rampant tax avoidance and tax evasion.
So it beggars belief that anybody could take a two-sentence letter from these executives seriously, promising they might – they might – increase wages and increase investment.
The truth is they will not do that. If they were serious about increasing wages, if they were serious about increasing investment, we would have definite commitments in this letter – not a two-sentence letter from senior executives, with no detail.
If they were serious, they’d tell the Australian people today how much they were going to increase wages. They’d tell the Australian people today how much they were going to increase investment.
And indeed you’ll hear from Andrew Leigh in a moment, who’s done some important research which also demonstrates how false, how insulting, this proposition from some of the highest paid executives in this country is to the Australian people.
This is the equivalent of simply getting a B-double, driving it down to the Treasury, backing it up, sucking out $65 billion and then handing it around to themselves and to their shareholders.
In the meantime, you’ve got Pauline Hanson down there waving them cheerio and taking 10 cents for every $100 bill that has just been flogged from the Australian Treasury.
This is so flimsy as to be insulting. There’s more signatures here than there is substance.
JOURNALIST: So you’re confident that this won’t be passed on to workers’ wages?
SWAN: We’ve got years and years of practical demonstration of that. Let’s be very clear about what the agenda of these executives is. Tax cuts for the rich and powerful and wage suppression for everybody else. Why does anyone think they’re going to change their behaviour? Many of these companies are already super profitable. Why would anybody think they would change the habits of a lifetime and suddenly turn around and become so generous as to increase, or substantially increase the wages of their employees when they’re all involved in rampant casualization, they’re making their workforces more insecure virtually by the month? And people are suddenly going to expect they’ve had some conversion overnight, come back and engage genuinely in decent enterprise bargaining and all the other things they haven’t done for a decade or so?
JOURNALIST: The government said it won’t be exempting the big banks from this. What do you make of Derryn Hinch’s proposal that you therefore up the bank levy?
SWAN: Look,Derryn Hinch cannot be taken seriously. How can anyone who pretends to stand up for pensioners and people on low incomes be supporting a proposal in any way which makes our tax system much more regressive and less progressive and ultimately increases the burden on pensioners and low-income Australians? I mean, it’s just a farce. He must be completely out of his depth to actually seriously consider a two-sentence letter from these chief executives. As I said: more signatures than substance.
JOURNALIST: Have pensioners raised concerns with you in the electorate about the franking policy of Labor and is there any plan to carve them out—?
SWAN: Labor will always stand up for pensioners. Under our government, single pensioners had the biggest increase in the pension in history and we will continue to do that.