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'll take the interjection from Senator Lambie. She says it is his ego—maybe it is. I find it bizarre. It is bizarre, but the whole handling of this backpacker tax has been bizarre. We had 32.5, 19 and 15, and now we have 15, but with a whole bunch of stuff on the side. The reason there has to be a whole bunch of stuff on the side is that the Treasurer could not, because of his pride, actually accept a change in the rate—which is a very odd position, because he had already accepted a change in the rate. Do you remember? We went from 32.5 to 19, and they were never going to move. That was the end of the line. Then they went from 19 to 15, and that was the end of the line, so he could not move from the headline rate. He had to find some other political fix to deal with this shemozzle. He did it by giving the Greens what they wanted on superannuation and giving them $100 million for Landcare.

It would be kind of funny if it were not so serious, because let us remember the context in which we are operating. Last week, Deloitte Access Economics' Budget Monitor predicted yet another deterioration of the budget which could jeopardise Australia's AAA credit rating. The deficit under Deloitte's predictions could blow out by $24 billion over the forward estimates, which would make a return to surplus in 2021 even more difficult. I note that the Treasurer has in fact become a lot more loose and fudgy in his language when it comes to that surplus date. Under this government, Mr Turnbull, Mr Morrison and the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann, have delivered a budget deficit for 2015-16, which is eight times bigger than what they inherited, as assessed independently by the secretaries of Treasury and Finance in the 2013 Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook. The 2013 PEFO—which was not prepared by me, as the former finance minister, or by Mr Bowen, but prepared by the secretaries of Treasury and Finance—had a budget deficit for 2015-16 that was far smaller than what is occurring under this government. Their budget deficit for 2015-16 is eight times bigger.

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