House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Matters of Public Importance


3:28 pm

Photo of Michael SukkarMichael Sukkar (Deakin, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

This MPI talks about millionaires instead of ordinary Australians. Are the 875,000 retirees who will have to pay the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Treasurer's retirees' tax all millionaires? We've heard a succession of examples in the House today of self-funded retirees on ordinary incomes, on low incomes, who are going to have to suffer if this man, the Leader of the Opposition, is elected—him reaching his hand into their pocket and denying them credit for tax already paid.

Now everyone in this chamber, I assume, puts in a tax return. Some people here, and, certainly, millions of Australians, expect a small tax refund when they lodge their tax returns. What the Labor Party is now proposing is that 875,000 retirees—people who have paid tax their whole lives, people who have built this country to make it what it is and people who have put small sums of money aside to provide for themselves or to provide for a loved one in their retirement—are now going to have the Labor Party saying, 'You do not keep your tax refund.' Tax paid on your behalf, everyone else gets credit for; you don't. It is theft. It is theft masked in very flowery words.

Looking at the words of the shadow Treasurer just a fortnight ago in announcing this measure, when challenged, he said that this is a well-targeted measure and that Labor's reforms are carefully designed. He said Labor's reforms are properly designed and Labor's reforms are sensible. Then he got out and said: 'The government will run a scare campaign. We know that. This is a very well-designed policy.' What did we see yesterday? We saw the Labor Party admit this is a rotten, rotten policy. Changing it on the run, it's now so-called providing protection to 300,000 pensioners—protection from their own policy!—but, sadly, they are not going to protect 875,000 additional Australians who are now going to have their money stolen by the Labor Party.

Despite this backflip, there is incessant talk from the Leader of the Opposition and his team about millionaires. Let's have a look at some of these so-called millionaires who are going to have their tax refund stolen by the Labor Party. We heard about a few of them in question time. We've got Alan from Bunbury, who has an income of $40,000 a year. I challenge any of those on the other side to live off $40,000 a year. Alan has a small share portfolio—a very, very modest share portfolio—and of his $40,000 of income, 25 per cent of that, or $10,000 out of the $40,000, is represented by this refund of tax paid on his behalf. So the Labor Party is saying to Alan in Bunbury, 'No, we're going to take $10,000 off you and you can live off $30,000.' Are these the millionaires the Labor Party are referring to? Are these the millionaires the Leader of the Opposition was just speaking about?

What about Colin? We've got another person here. Colin is a self-funded retiree. He said: 'We don't want to receive any pension from the government. We have a small portfolio invested in Australian shares.' The franking credits—the tax refund—represents 30 per cent of his income. They will have $12,000 ripped out of their pocket every year due to the retirees tax put forward by the Labor Party. Is Colin, with 30 per cent of his income now stolen by the Labor Party, a millionaire?

What about Graham? Graham said: 'My wife and I worked for over 40 years, diligently saving and placing funds into our super account to enable us to be self-funded when we retired. Now you and your Labor Party are proposing to change the rules if elected. Your proposal to take franking credits from our share portfolio will reduce our annual income—an income of under $40,000—by 20 to 25 per cent.' Are Graham and his wife the millionaires that the Labor Party keep incessantly talking about?

The Labor Party might think this humiliating backdown has somehow salvaged this policy, but this policy is rotten to the core. What we saw yesterday in their humiliating backdown of what was called a well-calibrated, well-targeted policy just a fortnight ago, is just the first cut. There are 875,000 decent, hardworking Australians who have paid taxes their whole lives, who have contributed to this country and who have set aside, in most cases, small sums of money or small parcels of shares to provide for themselves or a loved one in the future. They are going to be hit hardest. They're not going to let the Labor Party get away with it. And we're not going to let the Labor Party get away with it.

Every day you will hear examples of people like Colin, Graham or, for example, Campbell's mother, who we heard about today from the Treasurer. Campbell's mother is in an aged-care facility, is 91, has a small share portfolio and uses her tax refund to partly fund her nursing home fees. Is Campbell's mother, at 91, one of the so-called fat cat wealthy investor millionaires that the Labor Party keep incessantly talking about? Of course she's not.

This is why, between now and the next election, we will lay bare the Labor Party plan. The Labor Party plan is very simple, and I will give them some credit: they're at least naked in their ambition about it. The Labor Party want to create a big bucket of money that they take from hardworking retirees, 875,000 retirees, so they can go and splash it around the electorate to their favoured groups. 'So what do we do? We go and hit the easy targets.' That's what Labor said. 'Let's go and hit the easy targets, those retirees who have paid tax their whole life.'

The other part of this humiliating backdown from the Labor Party, attacking so-called millionaires, is that they said, 'We're protecting pensioners.' We all know the irony of pensioners requiring protection from their own policy, because 875,000 other people certainly aren't protected, but that was a lie as well, because if you're a pensioner from tomorrow, with a self-managed super fund, guess what: Labor's going to take your tax refund too. So after tomorrow we'll be back to square one: pensioners, low-income self-funded retirees and those with a self-managed super fund are in the gun from the Labor Party, just so the Labor Party can go and spend that on some favoured groups come election time, because they are addicted to spending and they cannot say no to any group who comes to them for money. So what do you do? You go and attack the people who are the easy targets.

Well, I've got a message for the Labor Party. I don't think those 875,000 low-income self-funded retirees are going to allow themselves to be an easy target. They are going to fight hard against this grossly unfair tax grab. This is the first cut to try and salvage this disastrous policy, this very well-calibrated policy—well, it was very well calibrated two weeks ago. It is going to suffer another cut, because this is rotten to the core. This policy is rotten to the core, and 875,000 Australians are not going to allow the Labor Party to get away with it.

We'll have one example after another of people like Colin, like Graham and like Campbell's mother—or what about Anthony, who said, 'I've got an income of $32,000, which will be reduced by $5,000'? The shadow Treasurer says, 'Anthony, on $32,000, you are a fat cat millionaire, and we want to take $5,000 off you.' Well, I can tell you: Anthony and his wife are not going to allow the shadow Treasurer to get away with this.

Yesterday's humiliating backdown is just the first cut. This cannot be salvaged, and we're going to assure all of those 875,000 Australians that the only way to protect themselves against the shadow Treasurer is to vote for the coalition at the next election. (Time expired)


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