House debates

Tuesday, 13 February 2024


Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Tax Cuts) Bill 2024, Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living — Medicare Levy) Bill 2024; Second Reading

6:57 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Today we witnessed the absurdity of an opposition leader who vocally opposes Labor's tax cuts but plans to vote for them. What a cruel joke! On 1 July this year, every Australian taxpayer will get a tax cut. For an Australian worker on an average wage, this means $1,500 more in their pocket each year—a yearly boost that would not have been received under the former coalition government's plan. These tax cuts are aimed squarely at people who work hard to make a difference for themselves and their families. Our Labor government wants Australians to earn more and to keep more of what they earn. This reform also responds to cost-of-living pressures facing Australians right now, and that's why I stand today to support the Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Tax Cuts) Bill 2024.

This tax reform will provide cost-of-living relief for 13.6 million taxpayers across the nation. This is a plan for middle Australia that delivers for every Australian taxpayer, right up and down the income ladder, from Portarlington in my electorate to Port Hedland, from Leopold in my electorate to Launceston, and from Torquay in my electorate to Townsville. This tax reform means that 90 per cent of women will now receive a bigger tax cut. More than 95 per cent of nurses, teachers and truckies will now get a bigger tax cut. Health workers, childcare workers and hospitality workers will now receive a tax cut. Taxpayers earning less than $45,000 will now receive a tax cut. And this will significantly boost the take-home pay of Australians working in some of the most low-paid jobs across the nation. Factory workers in Grovedale to retail workers in Armstrong Creek are all supported under our plan.

But the opposition leader and the coalition seem uneasy about embracing this much-needed reform. Rather, the opposition leader wants hardworking Australians on call 24 hours a day. He opposes higher wages. He votes against help with your power bill. He votes against cheaper medicines. He votes against affordable housing and penalty rates. And his stance wavers like a reed in the wind. While he reluctantly says he is supporting Labor's tax cuts, he argues against them endlessly. Australians do deserve better. They deserve a leader who gets the job done in the best interests of all Australians.

These tax cuts are the right decision at the right time. They do put money in the pockets of hardworking Australians without impacting inflation. Labor is making the right decisions for the right reasons, and that's why the Leader of the Opposition is voting for those decisions. Many local people have said the same to me. They have welcomed this tax reform, they have written to me over the past month, and they've come to me at markets and at street stalls and said: 'Thank you. You are listening to us and our need for relief from costs.' Those costs are really putting them under pressure. They recognise that, for a family on an average household income of around $130,000, with one partner earning $80,000 and the other $50,000, their combined tax cut will now be over $2,600, which is about $50 a week and $1,600 more than they would have received under the coalition's plan.

This reform adds to our record investment in Medicare, the boosted, cheaper Child Care Subsidy and electricity price relief. These are important initiatives, and they will not add to inflationary pressures while laying the foundations for a stronger and more resilient economy. Labor governments have always understood this. Former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam said in the late seventies:

The task before us is … to give our young people, our unemployed, our small business people, our migrants a new hope—hope for decent jobs, hope in their future and the future of their country.

This remains our task, and it remains Labor's commitment to all communities across the nation. In essence, our plan responds to his call for hope for a better future.

The Albanese government's tax reform delivers a better, more progressive tax system, addressing bracket creep more evenly. Our plan returns bracket creep for all taxpayers and does more to reduce the impact on those most burdened by it. By dropping two tax rates and lifting two thresholds, we are providing almost $360 billion in help with the cost of living, and, as a result, the average taxpayer will pay $21,635 less in their income in tax over the next decade. Treasury estimates our changes will increase labour supply by around 930,000 hours per week. This is more than double the labour supply impact of the former coalition government's plan. As our Treasurer has made clear, the most recent inflation figures show a welcome moderation. It's still too high, but it is moderating. Treasury is clear: our tax plan will not impact their forecasts for inflation.

In closing, I know families in my electorate of Corangamite and across the country are being hit hard by the cost of living, and that's why our Albanese government's No. 1 priority is to deliver cost-of-living relief. This is a bill that will support all Australians. It will help manage inflation and benefit Australian families. It supports small business by increasing labour supply and, importantly, it will benefit all women, many of them in jobs where they are paid less than the average. I'm proud that it will have a great impact for women. I'm very proud to support our government's approach to reducing cost-of-living pressures whilst also managing inflation. I do urge all those on the crossbench and in the Senate to support these bills. Let's embrace cost-of-living relief, and let's embrace this tax reform. It makes absolute sense. I commend the bill to the House.


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