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

Yes, lifters and leaners—I will take the interjection. They were very happy to give us lectures about lifters and leaners. That is the way the government talk. What I am going to point out to Senator Williams and Senator Cormann and all of those on that side as they start to talk about the budget deficit is that they were prepared to do a deal that cost them more just so that Scott Morrison did not have to swallow his pride. So do not come in here and give us all a lecture about fiscal rectitude, about the importance of savings. We all know that ultimately the politics comes first for this government. We have seen that this week, with the revelations around the $300 million of taxpayers' money they were prepared to give away to Western Australia to solve a political problem, and we have seen it again today, where they would rather do a deal with the Greens than come to a sensible compromise with the majority of the Senate.

I will have more to say later in this debate about the consequences for the Greens, and also for some senators opposite, of engaging in this. I would make the point that Senator Duniam and Senator Abetz and all of those who regularly rail against the Greens as being all sorts of things—they say all sorts of very nasty things about the Greens; I will not even repeat them—appear to be far happier to come to an agreement with them than with Senator Culleton or Senator Hinch or Senator Lambie or the Labor Party. It does say something about the government, does it not, that they would rather do that?

This is a government that was desperate for a deal. It has completely stuffed up the implementation of the backpacker tax arrangements. It was 32.5 per cent in the budget. We said at the time that would have a labour supply effect. We were told it would be fine, then they realised it would not be, and they engaged in a desperate scramble to come back from that rate as their base erupted. We have seen a range of different rates proposed and then moved away from, and now we have the cherry on the top of the cake—a deal which costs the budget more than what the Senate would have given them.

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