Thursday, 1 December 2016
Income Tax Rates Amendment (Working Holiday Maker Reform) Bill 2016 (No. 2); In Committee
I certainly do, Senator McKim—through you, Mr Temporary Chair Whish-Wilson—because when I make a mistake I acknowledge it and if necessary I apologise for it. That was a mistake. I realised that the reason for this mess is the former Treasurer, Wayne Swan, a Labor Treasurer who, with the Labor Party, caused so much recurrent spending. I congratulate the current government on standing up and taking note of various tribunal decisions and trying to resolve this in a timely way. So I apologise to the government for my misunderstanding.
I want to also acknowledge and express my appreciation for Senator Cormann—through you, Mr Temporary Chair. He kept his word throughout this whole discussion, and that is extremely important in the crossbench's view, after they were let down in their commitment to Senator Leyonhjelm. Fortunately, Senator Cormann has maintained his position in recent days, after the 15 per cent was agreed to by the government—and that is welcome for governance of this country, because we cannot have a government that bends to every whim. Decisions must be based on data. The government came to realise that 15 per cent, as understood by the farmers that talked to us, and as Senator Hanson proposed, was what was right. They unfortunately could not get some crossbench senators over the line yesterday. However, the 15 per cent is essential in treating not only the backpackers with respect and encouraging them to come back to our country; it is also treating the farmers with respect and maintaining regional Queensland. It is also welcome for governance in this country. It is also welcome for the budget and for debt, and for the farmers and for regional Queensland and for Australia. I hope that the crossbench have realised their mistake in not settling on the 15 per cent initially.
Negotiating is very important in politics, but what I am seeing is that horsetrading can often be damaging, especially when it involves the abuse of facts. We all have to do what is best for Australia and not play to our egos. So I say to the Senate: let's support this amendment that the government has proposed. Let's make Australia great again for everyone. Let's start with our farmers, who work hard over long hours and wear the economic risk to their own security and their family's security. Our farmers are our primary industry. We need to rebuild our regional economies into one nation. Let's make Australia great again for all Australians.