Tuesday, 2 July 2019
Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief So Working Australians Keep More Of Their Money) Bill 2019; Third Reading
If anybody in the broader Australian community wants to know why we have slowing growth in this economy—the slowest growth since the GFC—if anybody wants to know why productivity has gone backwards, if anybody wants to know why we have weak consumption and weak wages and why people in middle Australia are so worried about their wages, about paying their mortgages and about paying their bills, if anybody is looking for the root cause to a lot of these problems, they need look no further than the contributions made by those opposite in the debate tonight about their income tax package.
When you go through all of the crook economic figures that I've gone through a couple of times tonight, one of the things that hasn't dawned on the government yet is that one of the consequences of them winning the election on 18 May is that they now absolutely own this floundering economy which has slowed and weakened dramatically over six years and will into the third term of a Liberal government. We will have no more of the finger-pointing and the blame-shifting and the pretending that somebody else is in charge of the economy. One of the consequences of winning the election is that the weakness in the economy is on your head, and those opposite have played a role in the slowing down of this economy.
It has actually cost economic growth and jobs that they don't have a plan for wages. It has actually been detrimental to the economy that they've had a pig-headed refusal to support some of the rational, reasonable and responsible measures which we have proposed in the House tonight to try to get the economy going again—to try to get tax cuts into the hands of more workers circulating in the economy sooner, not in the never-never—because the economy needs a boost right now. The economy is floundering. The Reserve Bank has recognised that. If only those opposite would recognise what the Reserve Bank and the broader Australian community has recognised, which is that this government has a problem with the economy and they're doing absolutely nothing to turn it around. They're pretending there's nothing wrong with the economy. The Treasurer says the economy is strong. That's news to the Reserve Bank, who cut interest rates today to a new record low of one per cent, a third of what they were during the global financial crisis.
Just as it hasn't dawned on those opposite that winning the economy means owning the economy and all of the challenges that have developed over the first two terms of this government, the last six years, I also don't think it's dawned on those opposite—particularly some of the colleagues up the back there—that what they did in the House tonight was vote against a tax cut for every Australian worker in this term of the parliament. When they were wandering around their electorates and when they were standing up on their preselections and saying, 'I want to be part of the party of so-called lower taxes,' I'm sure they didn't envisage that their first act of the new parliament—the 46th Parliament—would be to wander in here and, under the Treasurer's direction, vote against their own tax cut being brought forward three years. Some of these new members—I see them there and I congratulate them on their victory—their first act in this parliament, having won the election, is to come in here and vote against a tax cut for every Australian worker this term. It's probably now slowly dawning on them what they've done. In the context of a slowing economy and all of these challenges we have in the economy with consumption and wages and disposable income, what they have done as their first act as new members is come in here and follow the Treasurer and the Prime Minister to vote against their own tax cut being brought forward three years in a way that would help the economy. This so-called party of lower taxes wandered in here tonight and voted against a tax cut for every Australian worker.
What we tried to do was to do the right, responsible and constructive thing and say, 'You've made a mess of the economy, and we're going to help you try to turn things around.' But what they always do is they always put a higher premium on having a barney with the Labor Party than on doing the right thing by the economy. If they genuinely wanted to do the right thing by the economy, they'd bring forward their own stage 2 tax cuts—or part of them—into the current year. They wouldn't be holding stages 1 and 2 hostage to stage 3. They wouldn't be saying that it's more important that we get a tax cut in 261 weeks time than it is that we get a tax cut this week out of this parliament this term. The first vote of those opposite in this place was to vote against tax relief. That will be on their heads. The economy's slowing; they need to do something about it. Stop pretending that there's nothing wrong in the economy on your watch.
The hypocrisy of the Labor Party's position has not yet dawned on me. They're talking down the Australian economy, yet only six weeks ago they took $387 billion of higher taxes to the Australian people. Their solution for the economy was higher taxes. We are all about lower taxes, encouraging aspiration, providing reward for effort and tackling bracket creep. Our tax cuts, laid out in the budget, endorsed by the Australian people, should now be supported by this parliament in full. The Labor Party have been exposed as being the party of higher taxes. They've always been the party of higher taxes; they will always be the party of higher taxes.
The question is that this bill be read a third time.
A division having been called and the bells having been rung—
As there are fewer than five members on the side for the noes in this division, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative in accordance with standing order 127. The names of those members who are in the minority will be recorded in the Votes and Proceedings.
Question agreed to, Mr Bandt and Mr Wilkie voting no.
Bill read a third time.