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Source: Australia Government Ministerial Statements

Ben Fordham:

Michael Sukkar is the Assistant Treasurer, he’s on the line from Canberra. Michael, good morning to you.

Minister Sukkar:

Good day, Ben. Great to be with you.

Ben Fordham:

This is not over but it’s encouraging though.

Minister Sukkar:

Well it’s good to see that they have heeded the warnings and the observations from the Prime Minister and many Australians which basically says that this type of extortion at this time is not the right way to go. When you’ve got medical supply companies basically saying that they’re running low on those supplies because of the go-slow on the wharves, the last thing that Australians want is for us to go back to the bad old days on the wharves. So, look, it’s encouraging but lets just hope that’s the first step to what is a more sensible way to engage into the future from the MUA.

Ben Fordham:

You’re out of the blocks early this morning with some announcements. You’ve taken the razor to the fringe benefits tax?

Minister Sukkar:

Yeah, Ben, look we’re expanding a range of tax concessions, access to those tax concessions to small and medium sized businesses. Previously, a range of tax concessions were only available for businesses with a turnover up to $10 million, we’ve now expanded that to businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million which basically means an additional 20,000 businesses won’t have to pay certain fringe benefits tax, and will also get other concessions with their interactions with the tax office. That’s another 20,000 businesses that covers 1.7 million employees and basically that means that for those additional businesses, they have less tax to pay, that’s more money in the company and simpler interactions with the ATO also means they focus more time on their business not with tax obligations which ultimately means more jobs, and that’s what this budget will be about.

Ben Fordham:

Okay, so Fringe Benefits Tax is being torn away when it comes to things like car parking, electronic devices, companies paying for staff to learn new skills, but you haven’t looked after us with the long lunch, Michael Sukkar. We were calling for Fringe Benefits Tax to be scrapped when it came to entertainment expenses. You haven’t come to the party?

Minister Sukkar:

Well, Ben, this is a pre-budget announcement. All of your listeners will need to listen intently on Tuesday night where…interrupted.

Ben Fordham:

So, it’s going to be in there?

Minister Sukkar:

Well I’m not confirming that one way or the other, Ben.

Ben Fordham:

This is fantastic!

Minister Sukkar:

All I’m saying is this is a really strong indication, though, that this budget is about making life easier for small businesses, which ultimately makes it easier for them to employ Australians. That’s again what the budgets going to be about. But I have seen your campaign on the long lunch, Ben, and I think our hospitality sector has been very grateful for your advocacy.

Ben Fordham:

Is there going to be something on that topic in the budget, without revealing any details now?

Minister Sukkar:

Well, Ben, I can’t reveal it one way or the other, all I’m saying is that you can see from today’s announcement, removing FBT from these measures, including, as you rightly pointed out, FBT on re-training or re-skilling employees. It seems quite crazy that some of the arcane aspects of the tax law meant that if you spent money on re-skilling or re-training an employee, a business had to pay tax on that. That’s the last thing we want them to be doing at the moment, we want businesses investing in their employees and taking this tax off them, makes it a bit easier for them to do that.

Ben Fordham:

Just a quick one, the HomeBuilder program runs out on December 31. Are you going to extend it?

Minister Sukkar:

Look, Ben, we are keeping a close eye on it. Clearly there’s a very strong chorus of people from the building industry asking for it to be extended because it has been such a successful scheme and it’s keeping the industry going in the second half of this year when we were very worried about it. So, there’s no doubt it’s been a successful scheme, we are keeping a very close eye on it and as the year progresses – and as the PM said a couple of weeks ago – I think we’ve got an open mind with these things and we’ll keep an eye on it and see how the industry is tracking. The long lead times in the construction industry mean you really need to make calls at the time that you have got the data. As I said, it has been very successful and that certainly goes in its favour, but we we’ll just keep an eye on it, Ben.

Ben Fordham:

Let’s talk next week in budget week. Have a good weekend.

Minister Sukkar:

I’d love to. Thanks, Ben.

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