The Turnbull government is yet to win Derryn Hinch over on its company tax cuts, and a letter from big businesses committing to invest more hasn’t convinced him either.
But the key crossbench senator says he is still listening.
“I promised when I came here I would listen. I’ll listen to you, I’ll listen to the government, I’ll listen to (Labor senator) Doug Cameron, who can do it in very colourful language at times,” Senator Hinch told reporters in Canberra on Thursday morning.
The government needs support from nine of 11 Senate crossbenchers to extend its plan to cut company tax from 30 per cent to 25 per cent to all businesses.
They have four on board at the moment.
Some of Australia’s largest businesses on Wednesday promised to “invest more in Australia” if senators agree to pass the legislation, saying it would lead to more jobs and stronger wage growth “as the tax cut takes effect”.
But Senator Hinch said the two-line statement from the Business Council of Australia and heads of 10 of Australia’s largest companies wasn’t enough to convince him.
“The business council letter was very kumbayah, you know, we’ll do this and we’ll do that, but it didn’t guarantee anything,” he said.
“I don’t totally trust big business.”
Senator Hinch also asked Finance Minister Mathias Cormann to put in writing “something that breaks the mould on no wage increases and that perhaps helps pensioners”, but says what he received from the government didn’t cut it.
“There was some good stuff in it but it doesn’t get it over the line,” he said.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who controls three votes, said on Thursday she was still undecided. But the business letter and a “guaranteed assurance” from mining magnate Andrew Forrest had helped.
“That was a sticking point. Twiggy Forrest has been absolutely fantastic on this,” Senator Hanson said.
“It does help, very much so.”
But Senator Cameron urged crossbenchers to “really take a close look at themselves and not just capitulate to a letter that means nothing”.
Green leader Richard Di Natale said the big business pledge was “totally meaningless”.
“If there really was a link between the company tax cut and wage growth then they’d commit to doing it and put it in writing, but they haven’t because they know that it’s bunkum,” he told ABC radio.
The government is also waiting to find out how brand new independent senator Tim Storer will vote.
It still hopes to put the legislation to a vote before Easter.