Senate debates

Thursday, 1 December 2016


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

7:52 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

The thing with Senator Dastyari is that the louder he gets the more he is hurting and the more truth he knows he is hearing. So I am glad that he is still trumpeting on, even though I do not remember pulling the chain. But I am glad that he is trumpeting on because it just shows that the truth hurts in this place.

I want to go to the quite astounding contribution we have just heard from Senator Roberts, who has also fled the chamber before he has had the opportunity to have the truth told to him. It will not surprise the Australian people to know that once again they have been the recipients of a giant conspiracy theory from Senator Roberts. The arrangement that the Greens have come to through Senator Whish-Wilson and our leader, Senator Di Natale, with Senator Cormann on behalf of the government on which the vote will occur in this place is a far, far better deal than the 15 per cent that it behoves me to point out that both One Nation and the Labor Party were prepared to support.

Interestingly, the Labor Party went on the record this morning saying that they were prepared to support 13 per cent income tax, including 95 per cent on the superannuation payments that are put aside for backpackers when they leave the country. Effectively, Labor said they were prepared to back in an effective 13 per cent rate. That is exactly what we have delivered, with the added bonus of $100 million for environmental programs for Australia's farmers. To Senator Dastyari—through you, Chair—what the Greens have done this afternoon and this evening is to reduce the tax paid on superannuation from 95 per cent to 65 per cent. Combined with the 15 per cent headline income tax rate, that means backpackers are ultimately taxed on all their earnings, including super, which is the same as Labor's offer. It raises the same revenue as the position that Labor put to the Australian people this morning, and means that backpackers get the same outcome.

To everyone listening to this debate, I urge you to put aside the political rhetoric and the spin that you will hear from the Labor Party throughout this evening, because it is absolute drivel. What the Greens have done is, effectively, take Labor's position from this morning and improved it by delivering another $100 million in environmental programs for Australia's farmers. That is why Senator Dastyari, Senator Wong and all the other Labor senators do not have a leg to stand on. That is why their contributors are hopping around in circles, because they only have one leg to stand on for their contributions. I say to the farmers of this country that the Greens have stood up for you today. We have stood up to make sure that farmers are not faced with a 32 per cent effective tax rate over the summer on backpackers, and we have stood up for the tourism sector.

Senator Wong interjecting—

Senator Wong is here, so I am going to read to her from a media release from the tourism industry in Tasmania, which congratulated Senators Whish-Wilson and McKim for stepping up when it mattered and striking an agreement that ends the uncertainty in the market. It points out that the Australian Greens, along with the government, have done the right thing—this is from the tourism industry in Tasmania—in resolving the backpacker tax debacle.

Senator Wong interjecting—

Do you know who owns the debacle? Do not worry, Senator Wong—through you, Chair—it is not entirely the Labor Party that owns this debacle, because the Liberal Party and the government have to wear their fair share of the blame too, particularly former Senator Colbeck, who opened up this whole can of worms.

Senator Wong interjecting—

There is another five minutes to go, Senator Wong, so settle down. What you are hearing today from the Labor Party is the politics. What you are hearing from the Greens is our desire to reflect what the real world is trying to tell this parliament. That is why we have been congratulated by representatives of the agriculture sector in this country and, in fact, by representatives of the agriculture sector in Tasmania. It is why we have been congratulated by the representatives of the tourism sector in Tasmania. It is really important to point out, when Labor tries to link the Greens to the One Nation party, that we have delivered a far, far better deal for the country than the One Nation 15 per cent rate, because we have delivered an effective 13 per cent tax rate for backpackers, plus an extra $100 million in environment programs for Australia's farmers.

It is worth pointing out—and I say this to my Tasmanian Labor colleagues in this parliament, whether it be Senator Bilyk, Senator Polley, the other Tasmanian Labor senators or the Tasmanian members in the House of Representatives—that, unfortunately, what you were prepared to do was let the fruit rot on the trees and let the grapes wither on the vines, all to make a political point. The Greens decided that we had to be the adult in the room here. We had to be the circuit-breaker that brought an agreement to this place and allowed for a resolution to the shambles that the backpacker tax debate had become. We have done so on behalf of the farmers of Australia and on behalf of the tourism sector of this country.


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