Cut tax on small business by 5pc: Bill Shorten

Labor would cut the tax on small business to 25 per cent and place a greater emphasis on science and technology, according to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Speaking in his budget reply speech last night, Shorten (pictured) said he is offering the government a bipartisan opportunity to help small businesses.

He called on the government to not cut small business tax by just 1.5 per cent, as Treasurer Joe Hockey announced in his budget speech on Tuesday, but by 5 per cent.

Shorten said such a move would deliver “real confidence” to small businesses.

As AAP reports, Prime Minister Tony Abbott rejected the offer of bipartisanship and said Shorten was peddling false hope with a recycled policy.

"They throw around these commitments but never actually deliver on them," he told Radio 2GB.

"Last night it wasn't a plan, it was just a wish list."

The proposal was cautiously welcomed by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).

“[Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s] proposal for a 5 percentage point cut for tax to small business would make Australia’s company tax rate for those businesses more competitive by global standards,” Kate Carnell AO, CEO of the ACCI, said in a statement.

However, she also pointed out that Labor has refused to pass some savings measures will make it harder to bring the Budget back into balance.

“It is concerning to see that Labor may oppose some of the other measures in the Budget. Australia has endured more than a year of uncertainty over the fate of proposals from the previous Budget, and it would be damaging for business confidence for the gridlock to continue,” she said.

As the SMH reports, Shorten also announced that Labor would aim to bolster Australia’s standing in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

For example, under a Labor Government students in STEM fields who complete their degrees would do so free of charge and be given access to 25,000 teacher scholarships to encourage them to teach in those fields.