Well, good morning. It's a great pleasure to be here with my Parliamentary colleague and friend Michael Sukkar, the Assistant Treasurer, and Russell Zimmerman, the CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, representing about 60,000 shopfronts and with the retail industry representing about 1.3 million workers, it's a very significant part of our economy and Andrew Marcun the General Manager of Bed Bath N' Table, a business that employs over 1,500 Australians.
Well, we're here to talk about the impact that the tax cuts that recently passed the Parliament will have on the retail sector and therefore the overall economy and in particular, the jobs that will be created as a result of the Coalition delivering the tax cuts that Australians voted for.
Over 10 million Australians will start getting their tax refunds as early as Friday. This is wonderful news for people who are earning up to $126,000 who will get up to $1,080 each. And Michael and I have been meeting with a range of people, who in their family, both income earners are earning under $90,000, that family will be getting $2,160. Money that they can spend on their own priorities and money which will be useful and come at an important time for the Australian economy.
But we've also got long-term structural reform as a result of the legislation that we passed through the Parliament. The long-term structural reform will see 94 per cent of Australian taxpayers pay a marginal rate of no more than 30 cents in the dollar. This is really good news to create a simpler, fairer, stronger tax system. And it's all because the Liberals and Nationals believe in Australians earning more and keeping more of what they earn. We want to encourage aspiration, we want to reward effort, and we want a tax system that works for all Australians.
And it has to be said that this legislation got through the Parliament with the support of the crossbench and against the wishes of the Labor Party. The Coalition defeated the Labor Party at most recent election, yet the Labor Party did not hear the message from the Australian people. They did not hear that the Australian people want lower taxes, not the $387 billion of higher taxes which remain part of Labor's policy platform. It's still the Labor Party's policy to have a retirees' tax, a housing tax, higher income taxes, more superannuation taxes and taxes on family business. That's not good news for the economy. In contrast, we have cut taxes and that will be good news for the retail sector across the county.
Well thank you Treasurer. It's wonderful to be here at Bed Bath N' Table with Russell Zimmerman from the Australian Retailers Association and Andrew Marcun from Bed Bath N' Table. We're here today because tax refunds, as the Treasurer said, of $1,080 for individuals or $2,160, will be flowing into peoples' bank accounts from this Friday and that is wonderful news for those individuals and families. It's really wonderful news for the economy, and importantly, it's going to ensure that businesses just like this, Bed Bath N' Table, who employ 1,500 people around Australia are going to be able to support their business and employees into the future. And as the Treasurer has said, retail is one of the biggest employers in this country and a strong retail industry is obviously wonderful for
those businesses and employees. And so again, from this Friday, tax refunds from $1,080 for individuals and $2,160 for couples will be flowing into peoples' bank accounts and that is wonderful news for Australian retail.
Can I also say each of those Australians who receive that refund will know, due to the leadership of our Prime Minister and Treasurer, and the Government, and with the support of the crossbench, we've been able to deliver on these tax cuts. But every single step of the way, the Labor Party put obstacles in our path. The Labor Party opposed these tax cuts. Whether it's the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, or the Shadow Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, who is wedded to those $387 billion of Labor taxes. They stood in the way of those 10 million Australians getting more of their own money back, and I'm sure those Australians will remember that as they are deciding what to do with that money.
But again, can I thank Russell and Andrew, we're very keen to support Australian retail and I might ask Russell Zimmerman to say a few words now.
Good morning and it's a real pleasure to be here at Bed Bath N' Table this morning with the Treasurer, the Assistant Treasurer, and with Andrew. Retails has certainly done it very tough over the last few years and the tax cuts that the Government has announced and that will be starting to flow through from Friday, that is great news for retail.
Retail is Australia's largest private employer. We employ 1.3 million people and we want to grow retail in Australia, we want to grow retail businesses in Australia. So we're looking forward to the consumers actually spending their tax cuts. We're in a great position at the moment. We've just had a three per cent wage increase; we've had two interest rate cuts so that people with mortgages will have a little bit more money to spend, and now we've got the tax cuts. So although retail's sitting at around 2.5 per cent year on year, we're expecting that to grow over the next twelve months. We're particularly bullish about the next six months having seen these tax cuts that are going to come through. And I understand there's around 850,000 people who have lodged their tax returns already. That's great news because it means those people are going to very quickly see this income come through from the tax department, so they'll be able to spend it in the retail industry.
By spending it in the retail industry, you are employing people within Australia, we want you to spend it with Australian retail stores based in Australia and to grow the retail economy and to grow employment within the retail industry.
Have you got any questions?
Treasurer, just first of all, the ATO has said yesterday that there were about 810,000 tax returns. Have you got an update on just how many people are getting their tax returns?
I haven't spoken to the Commissioner this morning, but we'll provide you with a new number. 810,000 was the number yesterday, with a comparison to the 450,000 from the same time last year, and as you know they are receiving thousands of calls and responding to them very quickly.
Just on another issue. On the Section 44 of the Constitution, what's your opinion of the concerns that might be flagged about twenty six more politicians being caught up in this new assessment?
Well we don't have any concerns about any Liberal Member or Senator. These issues were dealt with comprehensively in the last Parliament.
And on another issue, how much is the Government willing to spend on a referendum on constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians, in terms of a public campaign?
Well we've assigned money in the Budget to go through the process and the Prime Minister has already made it very clear that he and Anthony Albanese have talked how we can work together in a bipartisan way to make headway on an important issue, both through the good offices of Ken Wyatt, as well as Linda Burney, this is an important issue where we need to reach across the political divide. So, it's got a long way to run but it is an important issue and certainly we're seeing good will at the start of this Parliament.
Is it realistic to expect that we could get to the point of planning a referendum with any chance of success in the next three years? JOSH FRYDENBERG: Well, of course, we all want to get to the process, to the point where this process leads to a better outcome for all Indigenous Australians with the appropriate recognition, and we're going to work together towards that.
Just a question on religious freedom, do you think belief in God is a prerequisite to understanding the new proposed religious freedom legislation?
Oh look, everybody is entitled to have faith in God if that's what they believe or otherwise, and it shouldn't be held against them. But that is very different to the motivations behind this particular piece of legislation which the Attorney General is working on. Namely to ensure that people of faith have their rights protected, just as people of gender and sexuality can have their rights protected as well.
What do you make of internal plans to go further that what this religious discrimination Bill says? JOSH FRYDENBERG: Well there's a process that the Attorney General is going through. He's consulting with colleagues and then with stakeholders more broadly across the field, and I'm sure we'll land an outcome that has broad support and that will make a positive difference to this area.
I just have a question for Mr Zimmerman, if that's alright. How would you like to see unfair dismissal laws and definition of casual work changes after the Government's industrial relations review?
Well firstly can I say, things like unfair dismissal laws, inflexibility in retail part-time employment, those sorts of areas are a disincentive to retailers to employ more people.
I just spoke earlier about that fact that the industry employs 1.3 million people. We want to see the industry grow; both from the perspective of having more people employed, but we also obviously want more dollars through the tills. You're only going to get more dollars through the tills if we can employ more people when we need them, and be able to flex them up as we require them.
So we need some changes to the laws to ensure that we can employ more people and we can do it economically and that we can do it to ensure that the people who are employed are paid fairly. Unfortunately, something like a part-time employee who cannot be flexed up because the realism of it is, if you're employing someone on a part-time basis, if you want to increase their hours, you've got on give them one week's notice, or seven days' notice in writing. Now that's just not feasible in today's retail landscape. So something like that needs a change. We need to be able to flex employees up when they're on part-time to ensure that we can actually give more employee's time when they're needed on the floor. It's impossible, the retail business today, to determine what your takings are going to be tomorrow, let alone in a week's time. The laws are antiquated, they need changing and we need more flexibility.