Senate debates

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Bills

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

7:16 pm

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Aged Care) Share this | Hansard source

Coming from Tasmania, I find it extraordinary to see the Liberals sell out Tasmanian farmers and producers yet again. We do not have the National Party in Tasmania, thank goodness; we do not have those hypocrites in our state. We do have senators who come into this place regularly and berate the Greens for their policies and their views on issues. Then, quick as a wink, they do a dirty deal with them. It is almost as if the Liberals' annual Christmas present is that the Greens will side with them. It is extraordinary.

Senator Duniam is new to this place, but is pretty wise. He has been around the political process; he is a political hack from that side. He came along to the Senate committee hearing in Launceston, and what did he say? He said: 'Everything's going to be all right. We need to do this. It has to be 32.5 per cent.' He sat in the same room as I did and heard the same evidence from people who are directly affected. He heard Mr Reid—who grows some of the best cherries in Tasmania I might add and is not a supporter of this side of the chamber—say that 10.5 per cent was the best deal. If that was the lowest we could get then that is what we should have. But what have we seen?

This morning, it was extraordinary that the Prime Minister of this country, who said he was going to be different to Tony Abbott when he was leader, used the most disgusting language when he was trying to defend the position that this government have got themselves into. It was Barnaby Joyce from the other place who created this mess 18 months ago. What have they tried to do? They have tried to blame everyone else. It was disgusting that the Prime Minister of this country was talking about rich, white European kids coming to this country as backpackers. I was embarrassed to be watching his interview on television. This is a man who himself is rich. There is nothing wrong with that. Congratulations—you know how to make money. Why accuse the European kids who come out here and do the jobs that a lot of people in this chamber would not want to do of being rich? If they were that damned rich, they would not be working picking cherries and apples or working in tourism businesses around this country. That is the desperation of this government.

We heard the Attorney-General talking about his colleagues from Queensland as being mediocre. As disappointed as I am, I have to say that the Prime Minister today demonstrated that he is more mediocre and less of a leader than I could ever have imagined. I think it is extraordinary. My colleagues from Tasmania sat there and heard the same evidence as I did. Keith Rice is the CEO of Poppy Growers Tasmania and a well-respected man in the primary industry and agriculture industry sectors in Tasmania. He said that we needed to have a lower rate of backpacker tax; that was his evidence. Today he is saying the same thing. Mr Reid, a cherry grower from the southern part of Tasmania said, 'If it ain't broke then why try and fix something?' It was not broken.

We understand that we have to be responsible in terms of the finances of this country. Today the Greens have done this dirty deal because they feel irrelevant and because they are a bit envious of the crossbench getting all of the attention from the media with their deals with this government. They have to come out and make big heroes of themselves—at least that is what they think they are doing. Senator Whish-Wilson, who was also at that Senate hearing in Launceston and heard the same words, said at that hearing that there should be zero tax on backpackers. That is what he said. Now he has gone from zero to 15 per cent. What a sellout! He comes into this chamber and lectures people here all the time about how great the Greens are and how they are people of principle. They have succumbed to the dollars. They should be ashamed of the position that they have taken.

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