Businesses up in arms over Labor’s tax move

The Australian, 26 June 2018

Business groups have responded angrily to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s decision to roll back most of the legislated tax cuts for small and medium-sized firms, with one calling it a “big kick in the guts”.

After months of deliberation, Mr Shorten promised to rescind tax cuts for businesses with turnovers of between $10 million and $50 million if Labor wins government, a decision the Turnbull government is calling a “captain’s call” and a $20 billion tax hike.

Mr Shorten did not discuss the tax decision with Labor’s party room. Business Council of Australia head Jennifer Westacott said it was a hit to confidence and questioned how business was supposed to do its planning. “It’s a real blow to competitiveness, it’s a blow frankly to common sense,” she told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

“We’re not a cottage industry economy.” Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the “continually changing and unpredictable policy landscape” just adds to the risks businesses and their workforces have to navigate.

Adding to the uncertainty, Labor is still considering what it will do about tax cuts already in place for businesses with turnovers between $2 million and $10 million.

“We said that we will support any Australian business with an under-$2 million turnover to get a tax reduction,” Mr Shorten told reporters after delivering a speech in Canberra.

“We think that small business can do with all of the assistance they can get.” Peter Strong, the chief executive of the Council of Small Business Australia said if the tax cuts are pared to just firms with a turnover of up to $2 million it will be a ” declaration of war on business”.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss James Pearson said it was a “big kick in the guts” by the Labor Party.

“This is precisely the wrong signal to send to the Australian business community … these are not big businesses,” he told Sky News.

‘War on small and family business’

Small Business Minister Craig Laundy says Bill Shorten today declared war on small and family businesses.

Laundy says the Opposition Leader has no idea what it takes to be a business owner because he has never done it.

“He wants to take an axe to people prepared to put their home on the line to get their family ahead,” Laundy says.

“The Leader of the Opposition has never done it in his life and he wants to present himself to the Australian people as an alternate.

“Today, Labor declared war on small and family business.”