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

5:16 pm

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

Labor's answer to the cost-of-living crisis is to give every politician a $4,500 a year tax cut while asking middle-income earners to accept an extra $15 a week—$4,500 a year for every politician and billionaire and wealthy person in this country, while asking average Australians to put up with one-third of that. Three times as much of the tax cut is going to those at the top than to those in the middle.

Eighty billion dollars is how much Labor is spending on giving tax cuts to politicians, billionaires and the wealthiest in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. Eighty billion dollars would pretty much pay to get dental into Medicare so that everyone in the country—not just the politicians and the wealthy few, but everyone in the country—could get the health care they need because you'd be able to go the dentist and use your Medicare card.

Many people are skipping on essentials like getting the care they need, like getting the medical care they need, like going to the dentist, because they simply can't afford it. So Labor had a choice on how best to spend over $300 billion. And do you know what they did? They took $80 billion of it and they didn't use it to put dental into Medicare or to wipe student debt or to help people who are doing it tough, who get nothing because they're on JobSeeker. No; Labor have chosen to spend $80 billion on giving tax cuts to politicians and billionaires.

Under Labor's package, the wealthiest 20 per cent of society get 50 per cent of the money in their revised stage 3 cuts. I'll just say that again: the wealthiest 20 per cent get 50 per cent of the more than $300 billion cost of this legislation. The poorest 20 per cent get 0.4 per cent of the money. That's Labor's idea of fairness. And they justify it by saying, 'It's not as bad as what the previous mob did.' Well, by this stage of the game the Australian population, in the middle of Labor's housing and rental crisis and a massive cost-of-living crisis, is entitled to expect a bit more of the government than to be a little bit less crap than the last mob. Right? If you're going to come back and look at how to deal with a cost-of-living crisis and Labor's housing and rental crisis, then do something that will actually make a huge difference for people.

An extra $15 a week for middle-income earners is what Labor is asking people to be satisfied with, but average rents have gone up nearly $100 a week under Labor's housing and rental crisis, and average mortgages have gone up nearly $200 a week. And so Labor can find $4,500 a year for politician, but only an $15 a week for people whose rent has gone up by $100 or whose mortgage has gone up by $200. That is not fairness; that is asking people to continue to suffer through a cost-of-living crisis instead of taking the reins and saying, 'We're going to deal with it.'

With over $300 billion, imagine the things that you could do. You could put dental into Medicare, make child care free and wipe student debt—things that would last for people and wouldn't be swallowed up by another unfair rent rise from the landlord, because Labor backs unlimited rent rises. It wouldn't be swallowed up by mortgages continuing to go through the roof, because house prices are going up, because Labor won't unwind negative gearing or capital gains tax concessions. There are many people who will say, 'Yes, a bit of money is welcome,' but wouldn't it be better to take action on soaring rents, house prices and mortgages? Wouldn't it be better to do that? Wouldn't it be better to get dental into Medicare instead of giving Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart a $4½ thousand a year tax cut? Labor still has not made the case about why the top tax bracket deserve a $4½ thousand a year tax cut at all. People at the top are doing okay. It is people on the low and middle incomes who are struggling, and that is where the help should go.

There are a lot of people in Labor's package who get nothing. If you're on income support, your rent and the cost of groceries have gone up, but you don't get a cent out of this $300-odd billion, if that's what you're totally relying on.


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