The federal government is optimistic it will pass a historic deal to cut the company tax rate for Australian businesses.

Speaking on Today this morning, Leader of the House Christopher Pyne said he expects the legislation to clear the Senate next week.

"We are getting there," Pyne said. "I think next week we are hopeful of passing the company tax cuts through the Senate which will be great news for the economy."

"It will make us much more competitive internationally and ensure that wages go up."


But Labor minister Anthony Albanese shot down the proposed legislation.

"It is ridiculous to argue that A$65 billion ($69.2b) of tax cuts for the big end of town will result in a trickle-down effect," he told Today. "What we know at a time of increased profits at the moment is we haven't seen real wages increasing.

"There is no reason to believe the employers will voluntarily just give this money over."

Qantas, BHP, Wesfarmers and Woolworths bosses are among chiefs of almost a dozen big Australian companies who have signed an open letter urging politicians to support the legislation, which will reduce the tax rate for big businesses from 30 to 25 per cent.

The letter, which the Business Council of Australia posted this morning, reads: "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 heads of Fortescue Metals Group, Origin Energy, Woodside Energy, Energy Australia, JBS Australia, MYOB and the Business Council of Australia were also signatories.

The government needs support from nine out of the 11 crossbenchers to pass the bill.


So far Cory Bernardi, David Leyonhjelm, Steve Martin and Fraser Anning have all promised to vote in favour.

One Nation is a step closer to voting for the cuts after securing money for 1000 apprenticeships, aimed at training young people in regional areas.

If the party's three senators support the legislation, the government will be just two votes shy of securing support for the A$65b cuts.

Pauline Hanson initially opposed bill, but has since expressed a change of heart, saying she drew inspiration from Donald Trump's corporate tax rate cut in the United States.

"In America ... a lot of the companies now are actually starting to employ more people," she told Sky News.

The government also needs the votes of Derryn Hinch and newly sworn in South Australian senator Tim Storer.

But Hinch remained opposed to the legislation, saying the message in the letter was not enough to get his support.

Speaking on Sky News, the independent senator said: "They've got to try and justify how you can give a 5 per cent tax cut to the big banks when there's a royal commission going on at the same time, investigating allegations that they took dirty money and ruined the mortgages of working Australians."

He said he is willing to support the cuts if Australia's Big Four banks are excluded.

He also said his core concern is "sluggish" wages, telling reporters in Canberra he'd be open to a deal if there was an arrangement that would force companies receiving the tax cut to gradually increase wages.

Speaking on 2GB yesterday, Turnbull said he will not cave to Hinch's ultimatum, saying they won't be exempt.

The three One Nation senators appear set to vote in favour of the cuts. Photo / AAP
The three One Nation senators appear set to vote in favour of the cuts. Photo / AAP

"The company tax rate should be uniform across all businesses.

"What we say to Derryn is that we have already raised a lot of money from the big banks.

"We need that reduction in company tax across the board."

Pyne said his wish is unlikely to be granted. "It would be certainly unorthodox but let's wait and see how things turn out," he said.

Labor is eyeing a campaign plan to roll back the legislation if it wins office.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said the Government is "in love with the big end of town".

"Let's tell the truth here — some of the biggest companies in Australia don't even pay tax," he told reporters.

When asked directly on Today whether he'd roll back the company tax, Albanese said "we'll deal with our policies at the appropriate time".

Senator Mathias Cormann hit back on Sky News this morning, saying Shorten's "socialist" agenda would damage the economy.

"If we want to get big businesses at the front line of global competition in Australia to get ahead, we need to ensure that those big businesses can continue to succeed ... as well as the smaller businesses that provide services for them," he said.

"Various socialists and misguided commentators are trying to imply that businesses should be paying tax on their turnover.

"Businesses don't pay tax on their turnover and they shouldn't ... this would be disastrous for the Australian economy."