Tue, May 29, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Australian senate to vote on tax cut

AP, CANBERRA

The Australian government yesterday announced that the Australian Senate is next month to vote on cutting corporate tax rates, after an opinion poll suggested that the contentious reform has popular public support.

Australian Senator Pauline Hanson, leader of opposition party One Nation, which has a crucial vote, said that she is reassessing her opposition to proposed tax cuts in light of the polling, rekindling government hopes of achieving a key policy promise at the last election in 2016.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative coalition wants to cut the corporate tax rate by 5 percent to 25 percent by 2026 or 2027, but the measure has been blocked in the senate, where the government holds a minority of seats.

Australian Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann, the government’s chief negotiator in the senate, yesterday said that senators will be asked to vote on the tax cuts when they next sit from June 18 to 28.

He said the need to reduce the tax burden on businesses has become more pressing for future Australian jobs and investment since the 2016 election because the US under US President Donald Trump has reduced its top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

“Putting businesses in Australia at an ongoing competitive disadvantage deliberately by imposing higher taxes in Australia ... puts Australian workers at an oncoming disadvantage and that is clearly the point that more and more Australians are starting to fully appreciate,” Cormann told reporters.

He was referring to a poll published yesterday in the Australian that showed 63 percent of respondents support company tax cuts, with 36 percent wanting them introduced as soon as possible, rather than phased in over a decade.

The poll found that 29 percent of respondents opposed corporate tax cuts and 8 percent were uncommitted.

The poll was a nationwide weekend survey of 1,591 voters. It has a 2.5 percentage point margin of error.

Hanson’s One Nation withdrew its support for the tax cuts last week, depriving the government of three crucial senate votes.

She cited the government’s failure to meet One Nation’s demands, including more trade skills training for young people, reduced immigration and a commitment to building a new coal-fired power plant.

However, following the poll, Hanson said she would consider whether the cuts should be implemented sooner than proposed.

“I will listen to what the people are saying,” Hanson told Seven Network. “People can ring my office and they can actually put their message across to me.”

Tax is shaping up as a major policy difference in elections due within a year, with the center-left opposition Australian Labour Party arguing that the government favors big business over ordinary people.

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