Thursday, 1 December 2016
Income Tax Rates Amendment (Working Holiday Maker Reform) Bill 2016 (No. 2); In Committee
This may surprise Senator Cormann, but I am thrilled by this deal. I will vote for this deal. I am glad that it is being done. It is great for the fruit pickers. It is great for the horticulturalists. It is great for everybody that we have got to a figure. I wish that I had had the prescience and the perspicacity of the chair and had thought of attacking the superannuation deal myself, because if we had got to that we might have got there a lot faster. When you look at the reduction from 95 to 65 with the superannuation, we have got the 13 per cent that I wanted. We started yesterday with one person pushing for 13. Shortly after that, I got Senator Culleton on board and that was two. Then we got Senator Lambie and that was three, then we got the Labor Party and that was 29, then we got the Greens and that was our 38, and suddenly we thought, 'We're all going to go home for Christmas; it's going to be great.'
I want to put a bit of perspective into how all this came about, because I voted for the 19—I did—with the government, and was happy to do so. But at the Prime Minister's party on Sunday at the Lodge, I happened to meet the Treasurer, Mr Morrison, en passant, as he walked past. I said to him, 'Look, not the place to do this, but I should actually mention maybe that on the backpacker tax you may have to go from 20 down to 15.' He said to me in a brief conversation, 'No way, we can't afford it.' Now he is affording it, and he is giving away $100 million as well, but never mind. He said, 'We can't afford it.' So the next day I gave a press conference in which I said, 'I think the government should come down from 20 to 15. I could go with that.' I was then made aware that the One Nation Party was pushing for 15, and then I heard another press conference where the Treasurer had said we are going for 15.
Yesterday morning, which seems like a week ago, I walked in here—I will grant the Treasurer that he assumed that having backed 19 I would happily back the government again on 15—and supported their stand. I actually voted with them on the superannuation as well. I walked into the chamber and I was assured from the Treasurer's office that, 'Yes, we'll vote for 15 if you've got the numbers,' and we were told they had the numbers. I think they had miscounted the bus because one of those passengers had moved from One Nation to an Independent. I looked at that and I saw that the government was going to lose the 15-per-cent motion. I thought, 'Even if I vote with them they are going to lose, because Senator Leyonhjelm is on the other side.' And I thought to myself, 'We are going to lose at 15.'
So I thought, 'I want to get this through. We have to get it done by Christmas.' I knew that 10½ would get through so voted with them and happily so. Then, I negotiated with the government up to 13 and they drew the line. As I said, a clever move by the Greens, and I support it, that they could get the actual tax down to the 13 that we had aimed for.
I am not going to take up much more of our time on this—I hope we can get out of here early. We have got there. We have done a deal. I am happy with it. I am thrilled that all the opposing parties got to 13 per cent and then the Greens, to their credit, found a way to get a non-movable 15 per cent down to 13 per cent. I agree with their passion about the land. The fact that they got $100 million for Landcare is very good. But I will go to bed tonight thinking, 'The government could have got have got us all at 13 per cent. $100 million is a lot of money to'—as Senator Wong would say—'just assuage somebody's pride.'