On 26 March 2018, the following matter was referred to the Senate Economics References Committee (the committee) for inquiry and report by 7 May 2018:
The 'Commitment to the Senate' (the Commitment) issued by the Business Council of Australia (BCA) on 21 March 2018, and commitments to stronger wages and employment, with particular reference to:
(a) annually measurable benchmarks, for the period of the proposedEnterprise Tax Plan, for the companies that have co-signed theCommitment and other senior members of the BCA membership, including:
(i)company wage growth estimates,
(ii)employment estimates, and
(iii)schedules of investment by state and territory;
and in each case how they vary if the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan No. 2) Bill 2017 is enacted, or there is no change to the existing tax law;
(b) corporate tax data for the companies that have co-signed theCommitment, and other senior members of the BCA membership,including:
(i)the total tax paid over the past five years, and
(ii)the expected tax benefit from the Enterprise Tax Plan; and
(c) other related matters.
The Commitment to the Senate issued by the BCA on 21 March 2018 states:
We believe that a reduction in the corporate tax rate, as proposed through the Government's enterprise tax plan, is urgent and vital to keep Australia competitive.
If the Senate passes this important legislation we, as some of the nation's largest employers, commit to invest more in Australia which will lead to employing more Australians and therefore stronger wage growth as the tax cut takes effect.
The committee welcomes the government's decision not to proceed with the second stage of the enterprise tax plan.
Evidence provided to this inquiry, extensive debate in the Senate chamber, and wider discourse in the public arena, did not clearly articulate how a reduction in the corporate tax rate would directly lead to higher wages and better economic outcomes for the majority of the Australian population. Indeed, the case for corporate tax cuts made by the government and its advocates, including the Business Council of Australia (BCA) and its members, was tenuous at best and did not convince the Senate crossbench or the general public that it should be supported.