Payroll Tax (Exemption for Small Business) Amendment Bill | SPEECH


Second Reading

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (17:22): This is a very important bill. As everybody in this chamber knows, this was one of our hallmark election commitments. The Marshall Liberal government is delivering on this commitments, as it is on all its election commitments.

We hope today to finalise this bill through this house and through this parliament. We do want to remove the tax burden as much as possible from employers. The reason we want to do that is very straightforward. It is because we want to grow employment. We want more jobs in South Australia. We want existing employees to be able to grow and we want future employers to be successful. In fact, we want to attract employers from interstate as well into South Australia so that we can grow employment.

The reason we support businesses in South Australia is that they are employers. Supporting jobs growth is one of our highest priorities. This bill goes directly towards that. This bill takes a tax burden associated with employment off employers, so it is a direct benefit to employers. It is one of a suite of measures that the Liberal Marshall government is putting into place so that employment and jobs growth in our state can flourish.

We do not want South Australia to bump along towards the bottom of the table compared with other states, which has been the case over the last several years. We want South Australia to be a leader across the nation with regard to jobs growth and the benefits that flow from jobs growth and, most importantly, the benefits that flow into households. We want households to flourish because jobs growth is flourishing.

Committee Stage

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: That was interesting support of the amendment. When the shadow minister makes it sound as if this is the thing that is going to save jobs in South Australia, he forgets the Marshall Liberal government’s economy-wide impact. He forgot to mention the reduction in the emergency services levy. He forgot to mention the reduction in land tax. He forgot to mention the reduction in NRM levies. He forgot to mention a whole range of things that we are doing to support employers and the economy more broadly.

But I suppose one of the things that struck me the most from that set of comments in support of his amendment was that $22 million is quite irrelevant and not to worry about it—that would be his estimate of what it would cost to bring this in retrospectively from 1 July—as if $22 million is play money. Well, perhaps it was to the previous government. Perhaps that is exactly how the previous government went about their business and perhaps that is why the budget is in the situation it is in at the moment.

Let me say very simply that the Marshall Liberal government took to the election a commitment to reduce payroll tax in this way with effect on 1 January 2019, and that is exactly what we intend to do. The last thing I would like to say is that while the member opposite talks about the previous government’s record on payroll tax reduction, let’s not forget that what the previous government actually did was increase the threshold from $600,000 to $1.2 million temporarily, year by year. It was never actually in their budget.

The $600,000 threshold stayed for 12 months at a time. They then added another $600,000 on top to make it $1.2 million and then, leading into the next budget, they said they would do it again. So they kept it out of their forward estimates. We are not doing that: we are being above board, transparent and completely clean and clear.

Not only are we raising that threshold from $600,000 to $1.5 million—which I remind the house is in excess of the $1.2 million the previous government doled out one year at a time so they could keep the full impact off their budget—but we are actually making it a clear, transparent and fully responsible position from the government that will affect our budget. There are no tricks, no smoke and mirrors and no gadgetry, as with the previous government. In the same vein as sticking to our commitments, we will stick with the 1 January implementation date.