Senators Give Fresh Hope for Turnbull Tax Makeover

MALCOLM Turnbull’s $65 billion remake of corporate taxes is now within his grasp after crucial support from Senate crossbenchers.

Pauline Hanson today swung One Nation’s three senators behind changes to welfare payments after indicating she was also was open to discussions on tax cuts for big business.

The government is arguing a tax cut — from 30 per cent to 25 per cent by 2026 — was needed to attract investment and yesterday Senator Hanson said: “I’m not going to do anything that will jeopardise investment in this country.”

And new Tasmanian independent senator Steve Martin, delivering his first speech today, has indicated he would support the changes contained in the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan) Bill.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has swung her senators’ support behind the government’s proposed changes. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

Debate on the bill, centrepiece of the Government’s economic stimulus plan, will continue this evening as will lobbying of the cross bench.

The Government needs at least nine of the 11 cross bench senators in the 76-sear chamber to counter the rejection of the bill by the combined 26 Labor and nine Green senators.

Those numbers are now likely to include the three One Nation senators, Senator Martin, Australian Conservative Cory Bernardi, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, and former One Nation member Queenslander Fraser Anning.

Derryn Hinch has consistently wanted assurances the tax cuts would boost employment and wages but the Government is unlikely to include that requirement in legislation.

Two Xenophon Team senators have do far opposed the tax cuts.

It’s not yet known how new South Australian independent senator Tim Storer, a former Xenophon Team member who worked as a business consultant, will vote.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is pushing for a corporate tax cut. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/AFP Photo

The Australia Institute today released research it said proved our system of dividend imputation means that Australian shareholders would not benefit from reductions in the company tax.

It said Treasury modelling confirmed local shareholders would be “slightly worse off”.

That was because a tax cut would produce a drop in franking credits attached to their dividends.

“However, foreign owners cannot utilise franking credits so for them there is an unambiguous benefit from an Australian company tax cut,” said the institute.

It said: “Lots of the Australian companies also have a lot of foreign ownership such as the big four banks whose shares can be bought and sold in America along with a number of other household names from AMP to Westfield.

“All up 57 per cent of the equity in Australian listed companies is owned by foreign investors.”