Topics: Agreement with state and territory governments for a new National Business Simplification Initiative; company tax cuts; 457 visas
Good morning, Michael.
So you want to make it easier to do business. How will you do it?
So what we're doing is essentially slashing the number of steps and the different forms of processes that are preventing people from investing and creating jobs by setting up businesses.
For example, I suspect that most people would be astonished to hear that if you want to set up a café in the Parramatta region, when you look at federal and state and local regulations there are up to 48 forms, 75 different regulations and it can take 18 months.
We want to reduce that and we will reduce that to less than three months and to simplify up to one single simple process. And all the states and territories, in what I regard as a landmark agreement, have signed on to the National Business Simplification Initiative.
And so in Queensland, they'll start with agriculture and in manufacturing and hospitality. In Western Australia, they want to get their ecotourism approvals down to under 90 days. South Australia, it's about simplifying good safety auditing requirements, whilst maintaining standards.
So to work through with each state the particular areas where we can simplify business because people who are setting up a business just want to be able to get it done and get on with the job. And that way they can invest and create their own jobs.
I mean, all of that seems like common sense. But presumably the regulations were there for a reason, for health and safety or environmental concerns, financial probity, those sorts of things?
Look, there's a basis for many regulations but there's not a basis for a system which has been completely open-ended and required multiple approaches through multiple, different levels of governments and agencies.
Look, a great example that people have in their own lives is when they're redoing their license in NSW. There used to be multiple, different steps.
You'd have to go from agency to agency. Now it can all be done online through one step. That's a real success.
And so we're working with all of the states and territories, so we want to progressively make sure that you can cut time in setting up a business, that you're slashing paperwork.
And that means that that hesitation that, you know, people who want to create jobs have, of saying, “Gosh, if I have to wait nine months or 12 or 18 months before I can get an income, I just can't afford that.”
So it's about being competitive as a country. And you build that in with, you know, the tax competitiveness, trade competitiveness, innovation competitiveness.
The simpler it is to set up a business, the more people will do it because they don't have to wait as long. Their lives are easier and the jobs are created. It's a really important initiative.
And the great thing is, federal, state, Liberal, Labor, they are all on board and we are going to get the councils on board progressively around the country.
OK. Well, let's look at some of those other issues that are affecting business, the Government's plan to cut the company tax rate, for instance. Are you going to delay that legislation until next year, now?
Look, we're pushing ahead with negotiations in the Senate. Scott Morrison is leading that. I know that he's had some very, very constructive discussions.
It is something we have to do. It is something that the Prime Minister reaffirmed last night in his speech to the Business Council and the business community.
If the UK and the US are potentially heading to 15 per cent company tax rates, we need to be tax competitive.
Well, precisely. But 25 per cent is a long way from 15 per cent that the US is considering?
Well, of course, Labor is opposing, opposing these changes. They want to make it harder to do business at federal level.
They have got plans to close down many different types of heavy industry, blue-collar jobs around the country. And then they're opposing tax competitiveness, which is…
My point is 25 per cent…
Flying in the face of history.
But my point is 25 per cent, if you're talking about international competitiveness, that's a long way from the 15 per cent that Donald Trump is talking about?
Well, I've got to say that it's a big improvement in Australia. If we go from 30 per cent or 28.5 per cent, which are the two existing business rates, down to 25 per cent, that's a significant improvement.
And for us it's the right direction and it's the global direction. You have to be competitive, otherwise money can go elsewhere. Investment goes elsewhere and therefore the jobs go elsewhere.
And I'd say to Mr Shorten…
Sure. It's a very simple point…
If you care about Australian jobs…
It's a very simple point, though…
Don't wait for the crossbench. Come to us and support us.
Is 25 per cent enough?
Well, it's a big, significant step. The program which we're proposing, which will work over the course of the next 10 years, so it's the right direction, commensurate with maintaining our budget balance and getting back to surplus.
Because if, as a country we have competitive tax rates, we are one of the world's most effective trading nations which is helping to create jobs for cane farmers and millers in Queensland and truck drivers who are bringing sugar to market and we've got simpler business, then that whole package makes Australia competitive.
And that's one of the reasons why we're the only OECD country with 25 years of consecutive growth. But we've got to do the reform now.
OK. Can I ask you about the other issue that's affecting business that's been dominating the agenda this week, and that is the stoush over 457 visas?
Now, Labor wants to crack down on granting these visas to foreign workers. You've made some changes as a government.
But a lot of these workers end up in the IT sector, don't they. And you're the Innovation Minister. How will it affect the IT sector if we restrict the number of visas for people working in that sector?
Well, our approach is really simple. And that is, these are visas for areas that need the actual work.
We had the highest rate of 457 visas issued under Bill Shorten.
Of all the different people, when he was employment minister, that was the highest rate. And they were primarily going to the blue collar areas, where Australian jobs were being taken.
In the IT sector, there is no question. I've met with business leaders, with managers this week and they've said, where there are gaps in Australia, if we can bring people in, they not only provide the employment which allows us to run our businesses here, but they train Australian workers and help them to be part of a globally competitive local business.
So of course there's a place for the international flow of workers. But the blinding hypocrisy here is, the Opposition Leader was the minister who oversaw the greatest number of these visas and, you know, in particular they were in the blue collar sector on his watch. So his stuff is almost meaningless.
And what we want to say the Australian people is, the overall package of making it easier to do business, of opening up opportunities for sugar and cane to be exported into Korea, of a business tax rate and having access to the right employees where there are gaps, that's about us creating a competitive environment, a world-class competitive environment.
All right. We'll have to leave it there. Greg Hunt, thanks for joining us.
Thanks very much, Michael.