Senate debates

Thursday, 1 December 2016


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

And they tell us they are the great money managers! Add the deal with the Greens today to that. When you have a $100 billion blow-out in your net debt—it is true that $100 million is only a small proportion of that, but what it does show is an attitude. It shows, if I may say, a pig-headedness, a stubbornness. It shows that the Treasurer is more interested in trying to gain a political advantage than coming to a sensible agreement. The reality was that even the National Farmers Federation were happy to accept 13 per cent. Although it is disappointing that the once-proud NFF, who were prepared to stand up on a whole range of issues, have turned into such patsies of the government that, on Sky TV, they would back in 13 per cent, and then it is a case of, 'Oh, I got a call,' probably from Mr Joyce's office, and all of a sudden, 'We'd better put out a press release saying we really support 15.' I mean, it is really quite pathetic. I hope the NFF understand that everybody in this place noticed what they did. You do not get respect in national politics by simply being the patsy of a political party, and I think that was demonstrated today.

So back again to the AAA credit rating. We have a Treasurer who is so pig-headed he wants to do a deal that costs more. I am going to say that again: the Treasurer wants to do a deal that costs him more. As yet we have not heard from the government why it is so critical that they increase funding to Landcare and that they decrease the superannuation guarantee clawback. I think the reality is that this has been such a shambolic mess they just had to get a deal, and it is clear that the stubbornness of the Treasurer meant they had to get a deal where the headline rate did not change. Behind all of this, there is a serious proposition: if we lose our AAA credit rating, it is not just a theoretical problem; it is a problem that affects the lives of families who have mortgages across the country. It also has an impact on confidence. It would have been more fiscally responsible and far simpler to respect the decision the Senate made yesterday.

This Prime Minister promised to fix the budget and he promised to create jobs and growth, but what is he delivering? He is delivering growing deficits, more debt, record low wages and record underemployment. Labor has been prepared to play a constructive role in repairing the budget in a fair way. We have proposed sensible revenue measures. But we have not been party to striking dodgy deals that strike a higher tax and cost the budget money. That is how much Mr Morrison did not want to give a win to Senator Culleton, Senator Lambie, Senator Hinch and the Labor Party. He is prepared to go with the Greens for a package that actually cost more. It is really quite an extraordinary political achievement, is it not? This is in the context of a budget where net debt is increasing, the deficit has increased and the AAA credit rating is under threat.

So, Senators, next time you get a lecture from Scott Morrison about the AAA credit rating and next time Senator Cormann, who is a very good negotiator, comes to you and says, 'We have to have more savings; you have to support us on this,' I think it is useful to remember that they were prepared to throw a lot of money at this. When the budget measures are coming through this chamber and they give us all another lecture about why poor people, Australians who are struggling, need to tighten their belts a bit more, maybe we should remember the attitude the government have had, which is that they are very happy to throw money at a political problem when it suits them. But, whilst giving us lectures about the AAA credit rating, whilst giving us lectures about—what was that Joe Hockey phrase? Ending the age of entitlement—


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