Bill Shorten’s tax ploy shows contempt for the bush


With a single word Bill Shorten confirms our suspicion — his Labor Party is at war with small, medium and family businesses. This means regional Australia is front and centre in Labor’s tax attack.

Just as farmers, small businesses and families start to become more confident, invest more and hire more locals, Shorten and his Labor Party have confirmed they will rip confidence out if they get into government.

Instead of seeing the benefits of Australia’s growing economy — which has seen more than a million jobs created in less than five years — Labor wants to rip out the laws that mean ordinary Australians pay less tax.

Make no mistake, this is an attack on rural and regional Australia.

Labor doesn’t understand that turnover and profit are very different things. In a rush to hype up class warfare, it has forgotten that from turnover you pay wages, rent and other overheads, long before you think of paying yourself.

Businesses with a turnover between $10 million and $50m are farmers, small independent supermarkets and family companies in country towns and regional communities.

They are local employers who give jobs and opportunities to young people; stable and long-term jobs to locals and a second chance to older Australians looking for a few more hours as they head towards retirement.

That’s why the Liberal and Nationals’ Government cut the tax rate for small, medium and family businesses — to its lowest level in more than 70 years — while I was small business minister.

It’s why we increased the eligibility for the popular $20,000 instant asset write-off for small business to allow more of them to purchase the equipment they need to do their job.

And it’s how small and family businesses have done the heavy lifting in creating jobs and opportunities around Australia, helping us deliver our target of a million jobs in five years … five months ahead of schedule!

During my time as small business minister I visited more than 80 electorates and met with small business people in communities big and small, especially in rural and regional Australia, often drawing on my days running my own small business in Wagga Wagga.

I know it is no exaggeration to say country communities are naturally communities of small business.

It’s no exaggeration to say when farmers and producers do well, so too do small and medium businesses such as the local stock and station agent, machinery dealerships and growers’ co-operatives.

The local multiplier effect means shops in regional communities have more customers, high streets and tourism operators do better and there is a general optimism in the bush.

As with everything, however, we have to look at what Labor does, not what Labor says.

This is the same Labor Party that once lauded tax cuts and pledged its support for them.

Now it baulks at this notion because it is against aspiration, against people getting ahead and against small, medium and family business having a go.

By vowing to change the law, these are the very people targeted by Labor’s tax attack.

These are the aspirational people Labor wants to target to fund its tax-and-spend agenda.

But the Liberals and Nationals know the regions rely on small, medium and family businesses and we will fight Labor’s city-centric tax attack every step of the way.

Michael McCormack is leader of The Nationals and Deputy Prime Minister.

Originally published in The Australian on 28 June 2019:

Sam Edwards