Senate debates

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Bills

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

I know Senator Dastyari would not miss my contribution for the world. I will turn to Senator Roberts's contribution later. I was just suggesting that of course what we did not hear from Senator Dastyari was empathy for the farmers of Australia who were facing the fruit falling from the limbs of their trees, including the cherry growers of Middleton and down in the Doncaster region of Tasmania. I know, Senator Dastyari, where you are from there probably are not many apple and pear growers. But there are an awful lot of apple and pear growers down in Tasmania. I am proud to represent them.

I want to acknowledge the contribution to this debate and the leadership shown by Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, my friend and colleague from Tasmania, who was instrumental in delivering for the farmers of Tasmania and the tourism sector in Tasmania. I want to place on the record the view of the tourism industry in Tasmania. They have made it clear today that one operator in Tasmania that services backpackers has said that to date their bookings are down this summer compared to last as much as 40 per cent. I am not going to absolve the government of responsibility here as Senator Roberts attempted to do. This is a former Senator Colbeck special that we are dealing with here. You can lay the entirety of the blame for opening up this whole can of worms right at the feet of Richard Colbeck, a former Tasmanian senator and former minister for tourism. He cracked the lid off this entire can of worms. He has to accept his role in this saga.

The government's role has been appalling and pathetic. Their brinksmanship on this issue led us to this place where on the last evening of the last day of the last sitting week of the year it took the Australian Greens to be the adults in the room and make sure that we did not end up with a situation where we adjourned this parliament for the year and over the summer had the risk that we would have an effective tax rate of about 32 per cent, which would have smashed the agricultural sector and the tourism sector in this country, including significantly the tourism sector in Tasmania that I have the honour to represent in this place.

But we did not hear about any of that from Senator Dastyari, because this is all about the politics for the Labor Party, as it was when the Greens ensured that we toughened up tax avoidance measures for multinational companies a year ago. All we heard from Labor was the politics, whereas the Greens stood up and made sure that corporate tax dodgers pay their fair share of tax in this country so that we can adequately fund health, education and essential public services.

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