Senate debates

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Bills

Income Tax Rates Amendment (Working Holiday Maker Reform) Bill 2016 (No. 2); In Committee

6:57 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the message. I want to make a few comments—yes, those opposite should probably leave. To be fair, you could stay if you would like, because we could talk for a while about the nature of the deal and listen to the sort of agreement that you have engaged in. But I think the first and most important thing to know is this: the government that says they are all about budget repair, making sure the AAA credit rating is safe and making sure that they are fiscally conservative, yet they have just blown $100 million on Scott Morrison's pride. What a joke! One thing I will say is that clearly they are not taking Tony Abbott's advice. Remember, we saw Tony Abbott on Sky News saying that the state of the budget should be the primary focus. Well, clearly on this matter, Mr Turnbull has decided, 'No, I'm not going to take your advice.'

Let's understand the cost of what is involved here. One of these is that the cost of going from 15 per cent to 13 per cent was about $55 million. That was, of course, the proposition that Senator Lambie, Senator Hinch and Senator Culleton put forward—that we should go to 13 per cent. That would cost about the same as what the component of the coalition-Greens deal that deals with superannuation costs. I would like to just this point out to Senator Culleton, Senator Hinch and Senator Lambie: your deal cost less than what the government has done, but they clearly were only prepared to deal with the Greens. I do not know how that makes you feel or what sort of political message that gives you, but it is very clear.

But, of course, that was not the whole deal with the Greens. In addition to the 15 per cent, plus the superannuation guarantee changes, the government has chucked in $100 million for Landcare. The difference between what they could have had if they had been prepared to swallow their pride and come to an agreement with the crossbench and the Labor Party was $100 million. You have to ask yourself: why? Why would the federal Treasurer, in circumstances where we already have debt increasing and a deficit of the size that we have, put $100 million on the table just because he did not want to swallow his pride? It is just extraordinary, isn't it!

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