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

they're voting for their own tax handouts. They're voting for their own personal cash cow property portfolios. Gore Vidal once said:

There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.

While Labor and the Liberals hold hands and defend these tax handouts for property investors, the same could be said here in Australia. We have the party of property moguls here in Australia, and the Greens are taking them on. Negative gearing hands billions of dollars to property investors and locks renters and first homebuyers out. The Greens will not stand by and allow Labor to make this rental and housing crisis worse. The system is stacked against renters and first homebuyers, but we can fix it. We know pressure works, and the Greens will use our power in this parliament to keep fighting.

Labor shifted on the stage 3 tax cuts because pressure was brought to bear and they finally could not admit any more that it was unfair. If Labor can shift on stage 3 tax cuts, they can shift on negative gearing and on the massive tax handouts that go to property investors. All that these tax handouts—billions of dollars of public money every year—do is push house prices out of reach of renters and first-time buyers. Renters turn up to auctions to bid and they bid with what they can afford but next to them is a wealthy property investor getting a tax handout from the Labor government who can just keep bidding and bidding. At the end of the day, if developers bid too much, they write it off as a tax loss and get a tax handout from the government. Then, a few years later, as another continuation of the rort, they get to sell the property and they only pay half the tax on it; they get another tax handout at that stage as well. That's why here in this country Australia some people are struggling to buy their first home, but Labor is giving tax handouts to people who have five to buy their sixth, seventh and eighth. All that does is push housing prices out of reach of people and push up rents, and the housing prices continue to get worse.

We have an opportunity here in this parliament to fix the housing and rental crisis to stop billions of dollars of handouts being given to property investors that lock millions of renters out of the chance of owning their own homes. We can say, 'Stop giving tax cuts to politicians and billionaires and instead use that money to do things like fund a rent freeze or to build more public housing or get dental into Medicare or make child care free.' With a bit of guts in this place, we could stop all the billions of dollars that are going to the property moguls, billionaires and the big corporations and use it to make everyday people's lives better.

So, Labor, if you can shift on stage 3 tax cuts then do the right thing and shift on negative gearing and capital gains tax as well. Because, otherwise, generations are going to be locked out of having a home. Parents are worried not only about their kids ever being able to own a home but now also about being able to rent near where you work or study.

Labor just does not get how bad the housing and rental crisis is. They come to this parliament with band-aid solutions. Band-aids won't fix the bullet holes that are in our housing and our rental systems, that are pushing affordable homes out of the reach of generations. It's happening across the age spectrum—young people, old people. Under this government, you can find yourself, even after doing all the right things—going to TAFE, going to university, studying, working hard, saving, everything that is asked of you—still unable to afford a home.

Grocery prices keep going up and the government don't rein them in. Electricity prices keep going up, the corporations make billions of dollars of profits, but they won't tax them and make them pay their fair share. Our society is going down the road to becoming a US style unequal society, where you can do the right thing, do everything that is asked of you, and still not have enough to make ends meet. That is wrong because we are a wealthy country and, in a wealthy country like ours, everybody should be able to afford a house. You shouldn't have to win a lottery to afford a home, as Labor's plan wants you to do.

Labor comes in with a plan that says they will help 0.2 per cent of first home buyers with a small help for their deposit and the other 99.8 per cent will just watch house prices going up. In a wealthy country like Australia, you shouldn't have to win a lottery to have an affordable home. Everyone should be able to afford food. Everybody should be able to afford a roof over their head. You shouldn't have to skip meals or skip going to the dentist or skip going to the doctor because you are struggling to pay the rent or the mortgage, while billionaires and big corporations laugh all the way to the bank.

It's time that this parliament started acting in the public interest and not for the private interests of the property investors in this place who sit on huge property portfolios that most people in this country will never, ever see.

It is time we started putting the public first. This bill says that politicians and billionaires should get tax cuts three times the size of those given to everyday people. Well, the Greens think there's a different way. If we're going to spend $300-odd billion, do it in a way that lifts people out of poverty; do it in a way that doesn't put the politicians and billionaires first but puts everyday people first. It is time to start putting the public interest, not vested interests, first.


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