Event: Jennifer Westacott interview with David Penberthy and Will Goodings, FIVEaa
Speaker: Jennifer Westacott
Date: 9 May 2018
Topics: Budget, company tax
Will Goodings, co-host: We'll get the thoughts of the Business Council of Australia right now though because CEO Jennifer Westacott joins us on the line. Jennifer, good morning to you.
Jennifer Westacott, chief executive Business Council of Australia: Good morning.
David Penberthy, co-host: Thanks for your time Jennifer, now, personal income tax cuts in this budget, about twice the amount, in terms of their value, is the corporate tax cuts. Do you think that the government's got the balance right?
Jennifer: I do think they've got the balance right. Because, what this budget shows is that when business activity is strong, then you can actually put back. You can put back in those tax cuts to low and middle income earners. You can put back in big tax reform. I mean, we're removing a whole tax bracket in the personal tax system. But, if we don't actually, kind of, continue to grow the economy, make business conditions strong, keep our companies competitive through a lower tax rate, you know, we won't see those revenues increasing and it makes vulnerable the capacity for us to sustain those tax cuts over time. I mean the really important figure in that budget is the $100 billion that companies would pay at the end of the forward estimates, which includes the tax cut and a trillion dollars over a decade which includes the full tax cut. So, we need businesses to be strong. When they're strong, we can thrive, we can put back. You know, I'm very supportive of these personal tax cuts. We've always advocated for them and I think government has really got a very, very sensible package here.
Will: I guess one thing business is always looking for is certainty. Does it worry you that in order for all of these changes to be implemented, the government, which is not even a sure thing of winning the next election, needs to win the next three?
Jennifer: Look, I think, you know, it's important that we get these things legislated now. Because, then people have to actually, kind of say, that in undoing it they're going to increase people's taxes and increase taxes to businesses and increase tax for small business. And that's a different battle ground, I think. So, the important thing is sending a signal. I think if you, if you sort of, make public policy on the fact that you can't do things in 10 years' time, you don't actually have a long term plan, you wouldn't do much, really. I mean, NDIS is a long term plan, it's a very important scheme. I think, you know, we've got to have the confidence that governments can actually make decisions, get stuff done, and start sending the signal to ordinary Australians that the tax relief is coming, coming for low income earners now. And send a signal for business that the investment conditions are going to be better so they can buffer some of these global economic headwinds that are not finished.
David: Jennifer Westacott, the CEO of the Business Council of Australia. Thanks very much for joining us this morning.
Jennifer: You're very welcome, thanks.