Coalition fires up business tax cut battle

Marnie Banger and Daniel McCulloch
Mathias Cormann says the government is still pursuing tax cuts for big business

Australian families will reap the benefits of tax cuts for big businesses, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has said, committing to taking the policy to the next election.

Senator Cormann says the federal government will persist with its proposal to slash the tax rate for businesses turning over more than $50 million per year from 30 to 25 per cent, even if it does not pass a vote in the Senate this fortnight.

"We are absolutely committed to taking business tax cuts to the next election, hopefully having been legislated by the Senate," he told parliament on Monday.

The minister said the cut would protect jobs and drive wage growth, making it vital to the success of Australian families.

"If the Labor party cared about working families, they would back it."

His commitment has come despite a number of government MPs pushing for the policy to be dropped if it can't get through the upper house.

Nationals MPs Michelle Landry and Ken O'Dowd are already canvassing other projects money tied to the policy could be spent on.

"The feedback that we've certainly received is that it's not going to get through so I think that we need to start looking at other areas that we can help people," Ms Landry told the ABC.

"I would like actually to see more money go toward our aged pensioners."

The opposition, meanwhile, has set its sights on undermining the finance minister's claim that similar tax cuts in the US have delivered stronger investment and growth, along with lowering unemployment and raising wages.

"The facts are that in 2018 in the US, there has been no discernible lift in business investment," shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said.

"You only have to listen to seasoned observers of the United States economy to see that the corporate tax cut is not having the desired effect on investment."

Labor leader Bill Shorten told parliament on Monday the tax break should be ditched, with part of the funds given to help drought-hit farmers.

Senator Cormann, the government's chief negotiator in the upper house, has ruled out a proposal from crossbench senator Derryn Hinch to limit tax cuts to businesses with turnovers of under $500 million to carve out the big banks.

The coalition currently has only four out of the eight crossbench votes needed to pass the draft laws, which are expected to be debated next week.