Well, it’s terrific to be here with my friend and parliamentary colleague, Senator Cash, the Minister for Small and Family Business.
Well, today is a big step forward in our efforts to grow the Australian economy. The Senate has just passed the Morrison Government’s legislation to provide tax cuts to more than three million small and medium-sized businesses across the country, employing around seven million people. And these tax cuts have been provided five years ahead of schedule.
If you’re a café, this’ll be worth $2,500 more to you each and every year. If you’re a pub or an independent supermarket, it could be worth $12,500 to you each and every year. This will allow you to grow your business, to invest in your business and to create more jobs.
Now, under the Morrison Government, the Australian economy is strong. We’re growing at around 3.4 per cent through the year, we’ve delivered on our commitment to create more than a million new jobs, we have a budget that is on track to come back to balance a year earlier than expected in 2019-2020 and we have had our AAA credit rating reaffirmed by the three leading credit rating agencies.
We cannot afford, as a country, as an economy, to return to the tax and spend approach of the union dominated Labor Party. Michaelia?
Thank you. And it is an absolute delight to join the Treasurer here today, as the Senate has officially passed our tax cuts for small and medium businesses. As the Minister for Small and Family Business, I am delighted that we are putting in place the right economic framework and the right policies to ensure that our small and family businesses across Australia can prosper and grow.
As the Treasurer has said, these tax cuts, which we have fast-tracked, we’re bringing them in five years earlier than we had planned. Why? Because we’ve put in place a strong economy, meaning that the almost 3.3 million small and medium businesses across Australia that employ seven million Australians will have more money in their back pockets.
What are they going to do with this money? Well, I’ve spent the last three weeks travelling around Australia, talking to as many small and family businesses as I can. And they reiterate stories to me of how they reinvest back into their business, of how they’re able to bring on another employee and that is what we want to see our small and family businesses doing.
We’ve already delivered so much for our small and family businesses because as a Government, the Liberal National Party, we understand they are the backbone of our economy, they are the job creating machine of our economy.
We extended the $20,000 instant asset write off until the 30th of June next year. And as I’ve travelled around the country in the parliamentary break, so many businesses have taken me out the back and they have shown me the piece of equipment that they were able to invest in as a result of the extension of this policy.
We said we would do the right thing by small and family business in this country and being able to fast-track our tax cuts for these businesses five years early is good news. So, thanks to the Treasurer.
The employment figures are quite good, but the participation rate isn’t. Is that a cause for concern for the Government?
Well, the participation rate is strong at 65.4 and today those job numbers are excellent. To see our unemployment rate hit five per cent, the lowest level since 2012 is again a positive endorsement of the policies that we have put in place as a Liberal and National government.
In terms of full-time employment, it’s up by 20,000, so these numbers are consistent with the momentum we have seen across economy as people feel confident in the Government and people feel confident in the economy.
The participation rate shows that more people aren’t trying to find a job, does that concern you?
Well, the participation rate is near a record high, 65.4. And can I say about participation, and Michaelia may want to add, but what I can say about participation is more woman are in the workforce, more seniors are in the workforce and over the last year we’ve seen over 100,000 jobs created for young people.
And as the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made the point repeatedly and Kelly O’Dwyer as Jobs Minister, we have repeatedly said more young people have a got a job than at any time on record, that’s an outstanding result.
But Treasurer [inaudible] is that not a concern, because it is a major reason why the overall unemployment rate has had such a drop?
Well the fall has been in the unemployment rate and down to five per cent is something to celebrate. Let’s not forget that when the Labor Party were last in government unemployment was at 5.7 per cent and more people were looking for work than the year prior.
As a result of the policies we have put in place, we have seen the economy grow strongly, faster than any G7 country, faster than the OECD average, we have seen our AAA credit rating reaffirmed, we’ve seen our spending growth come down to the lowest levels in 50 years, we’ve seen the number of working aged Australians on welfare at the lowest level in 25 years.
This is the result of strong economic plan that is working and these unemployment numbers today are an indication that we are on the right track.
You’ve got jobless at about 4.5 per cent in both New South Wales and Victoria. Wouldn’t you expect to see wages growth be ticking up a bit more than what you have seen?
Well, according to the last National Accounts the wages price index was up 2.1 per cent and I defer there to the Reserve Bank Governor, who has said that the labour market outlook is positive. What he has said is that real wages will increase overtime, especially as we see the spare capacity in the market eroded away as the economy continues to grow strongly.
So, I absolutely understand that real wages could be growing faster than what we have seen. But we have seen record employment, more than a million jobs being created and the word from the Reserve Bank is that real wages growth will increase overtime.
Treasurer, just on the GST, you once advocated for a rise to 15 per cent, why won’t you advocate for that now?
Well, we have no plans to change the rate of the GST. What we have done today importantly and Michaelia will totally support this as a Western Australian, is introduced legislation into the Parliament which will create a fairer, more sustainable system with the GST.
This has been welcomed by the states and territories and it’s been again the leadership of the Morrison Government. We’ve provided a national solution to a national problem.
One Labor member in Western Australia said pigs would fly before we could work out a new system to distributing the GST, well we have. And we’ve got the support across the Parliament for it. And what we will see under our legislation as a result of our changes, every state and territory will be better off. And we are putting $9 billion, additional money, into the states and the territories, we’ve legislated a floor at 75 cents so we will never see a repeat of the situation where Western Australia only got 30 cents in the dollar. This is a good outcome for all Australians and will see every state and territory better off.