WAYNE SWAN, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: I just wanted to say a few words about the Business Council’s log of claims, if you like, for a massive tax cut and also to address this question that we see in the press today that the Business Council is now going to launch into a massive advertising campaign.
Look, the solution to the Business Council’s problem is not advertising – it’s attitude. The Business Council thinks it can take the Australian people for a ride.
I’ve just been listening to Tony Shepherd on the radio, who thinks that we live in a business, not in a community. The truth is we live in a community, not in a corporation.
For Mr Shepherd to make claims that the tax cuts pay for themselves, and they are a magic elixir for growth forever is false in economics but it’s also bad in terms of fracturing the relationships with the community within which businesses operate.
The truth is that members of the Business Council are suffering from a blindness of affluence. They don’t mix with ordinary people, they don’t relate to their workforce, they’ve got a merge, purge and gouge mentality in the way in which many of them operate their companies, and they think that they can get through all of this by simply using spin!
Well they can’t. The Australian people are overwhelmingly opposed to these tax cuts because they can see right through the propaganda of the Business Council.
And the Business Council’s own survey, which it then suppressed, showed that most companies were not going to invest the tax cut in additional jobs or in higher wages.
It was simply going to go right through to their executives and to their boards, but not to the Australian people.
If we are to grow successfully as a country, it is true that we do need a degree of cooperation, and that business and the workforce do need to work together.
But what’s going on at the moment is that the business community – or sections of it, not everyone; there are good people in the business community – but sections of the business community are in fact conducting a war against their workforce.
You can see it in the rampant casualisation. You can see it in their attitude in enterprise bargaining. They don’t respect their workforce.
And for the Business Council to come to this building on the day that the news breaks that they’ve suppressed their own survey which shows that the tax cuts will not produce the jobs and wage increases they claim.
This is simply spectacularly arrogant of those people here this week in this building, trying to convince Members of Parliament that they should get support.
The truth is, they should go straight back, right back, to the drawing board, and have a sensible discussion with the community about how we can grow, not just strongly, but also grow together and to grow fairly.
The fact is that average tax rates are around 23 or 24 per cent. They’re not the 30 per cent nominal rate that they claim.
The fact is that large sections of the business community are involved in outright tax evasion. And many of them are using tax havens.
Now, I know they’ve got a barbecue here today for a worthy charity, and terrific. I encourage everyone to go to that barbecue today and support that charity.
But charity begins at home! Charity doesn’t begin in the Cayman Islands. It doesn’t begin in the use of tax havens in Singapore.
And until the business community comes out and openly condemns tax evasion, the use of tax havens, they’ll have no credibility with the Australian people.
JOURNALIST: The Government has said it needs some extra time to continue its negotiations with crossbenchers to get this legislation through; do you think that they will be successful?
SWAN: Look, I hope they’re not successful. These proposed tax cuts are not good in terms of economics, but they’re even worse in terms of fracturing relationships in our community.
Until the business community puts its hand up and says it’s prepared to deal with those that are openly evading tax in their membership – until it does that, no one’s going to take them seriously and no one’s going to take the Government seriously.
JOURNALIST: Do you think it could affect the Government’s momentum, I guess, if this is a policy that they’re quite keen to get across?
SWAN: I wasn’t aware the Government had any momentum.