Questions Without Notice - Taxation

12 February 2024

Ms BYRNES (Cunningham) (14:44): My question is to the Minister for Industry and Science. How will the Albanese Labor government's tax cuts help Australian manufacturing workers, and are there any risks to Labor's plan?

Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Minister for Industry and Science) (14:44): I thank the member for her question. This government is one that believes in a future that is made in Australia because manufacturing delivers great jobs—900,000-plus jobs in this country, 85 per cent of them full time, and the bulk of them pay better than average weekly earnings. Under Labor's plans, particularly in terms of cost-of-living relief and overall, in terms of wage increases, we want those workers to earn more and keep more under what we are doing.

What does that mean in practice for manufacturing workers? If you look at BlueScope steel, a well-known employer in the member for Cunningham's electorate, you can see an entry-level blast furnace operator—an important job and a skilled profession at the heart of steelmaking—makes a base salary of around $59,000 a year. They're going to get a tax cut of $1,160. If that worker goes on to gain experience and expertise and goes up from entry-level operator to level 4 operator, their base salary will jump to around $86,000 and they'll get an even bigger tax cut of $1,840.

You can look at others in manufacturing—for example, workers at CSL who research and manufacture life-saving medicines across the country, from Parkville and Broadmeadows and to North Sydney. Workers on the lowest salaries covered by their current agreement, who make a base salary of around $69,000, are going to enjoy more than $1,400 as a tax cut, and those on the higher salaries covered by the agreement, who are currently on a base salary of about $120,000, are going to enjoy a $2,700 tax cut.

Now, I thought there was semicompelling viewing in Nemesis. I don't mean any disrespect to the makers of the mockumentary, but the better thing to watch was the position on our tax cuts. That was way better viewing. At this point, we cue the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and shadow minister for industry, who, when we offered a tax cut for manufacturing workers, said it was absolutely her position that they will roll back Labor's tax cut if they win the election. The only thing that then happened is that they rolled back her position and didn't go ahead with it. So I'm really hoping there's room for a sequel to Nemesis. But, if they won't do it, you've got to give us a blooper reel, and there's got to be a Sussan section to Nemesis.

The SPEAKER: The minister will pause. He will not refer to members by their first names. He will refer to them by their correct titles. The minister will pause. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

Mr Fletcher: On relevant: he's well outside the terms of the question. He should be directed back to it.

The SPEAKER: The question contained risks to Labor's plan.

Mr Fletcher: It didn't invite him to tour through particular programs on particular television networks.

The SPEAKER: The minister has 22 seconds. I'm going to remind him to refer to members by their titles and to refer back to the question and to make sure his answer is relevant to risks to Labor's plans.

Mr HUSIC: Absolutely, but it is important that manufacturing workers know that the shadow minister for industry and deputy leader doesn't back them getting tax cuts and was actively working to stop that until, at some point, they worked out their position and came to common sense. On this side of the House, manufacturing workers know we've got their backs. (Time expired)