Senate debates

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Matters of Public Importance


4:35 pm

Photo of Sam DastyariSam Dastyari (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I am sorry that English is my second language, Senator Whish-Wilson! You keep going on about this! That was in jest. I withdraw any inference there. I think Senator Whish-Wilson understands that that was in jest.

But to turn a topic like that into a love letter to this government is just disappointing. I get what is going on here. It is obvious. It is the mating dance. It is the mating ritual that is going on at the moment between the government and the Greens. This happens every time we get to the end of a session. All of a sudden Senator Whish-Wilson starts attacking the Labor Party. That is what he does. Then he starts laying the groundwork. Now we know that Senator Hanson-Young and others are in negotiations at the moment about doing an education deal with the government. They have done it before. It happens at the end of every session. There is nothing that the Greens seem to like more than a dirty deal done dirt cheap late with the government. It happens all the time. That is fine. We see this happen at the end of every session.

Let's be clear: the Labor Party voted for the MAAL. But before that we did everything we could to make sure it was going to be a stronger piece of legislation. What we said at the time—and I stand by this—was that it was a bad deal. We had all the cards for those who wanted very strong action taken on international and multinational tax minimisation and tax avoidance. There had been a crossbench coalition of many parties working together, and the Greens had been part of that. All of it came through inquiries, one of which the Greens had a huge role in. I have consistently acknowledged the previous Greens leader, Senator Milne, who was very, very strong on this and actually brought the issue to my attention and to the attention of many other senators over a number of years. At the end of it, there is nothing better for the Greens political party than to snap defeat from the jaws of victory. They did it once again, and they will perhaps do it again on the issue of education. That is really a matter for them. I understand that they are in a position now where they are holding more meetings than the Liberal Party are these days, and the best of luck to them.

The issue at hand is that there is at the moment a fiscal issue when it comes to where we are going to raise revenue and what we are going to spend it on. We had Senator McGrath before using motherhood statements like, 'We believe that people should be paying their fair share of tax.' Everybody agrees with that principle. The debate in this chamber is: what is fair? Through you, Mr Acting Deputy President, Senator Leyonhjelm and the libertarians have consistently said that people should be paying their fair share of tax. Now, I believe that the libertarian perspective and perhaps my perspective on what is fair for different people to pay is wholly different, though I note that Senator Leyonhjelm's position is increasingly becoming more and more like mine as time goes by.


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