Senate debates

Wednesday, 20 June 2018


Consideration of Legislation

3:07 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

Not happy in failing in their attempt to hold the tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners hostage to the tax cuts for high-income earners, what we now see are a government spitting the dummy and not even allowing debate in the Senate chamber. How pathetic! What a government! We gave you 3½ hours last night by agreement. You lose a vote on an amendment and you say: 'Oh, my goodness! We have to guillotine debate because we don't want any further debate.' What are you so scared of? This is a complete dummy spit by Senator Cormann, the man who styles himself as the Leader of the Government in the Senate. What a dummy spit! You lose on one amendment and now you want to guillotine the debate. I mean, really?

But let me just come back to this point. The government say, 'Our priority is low- and middle-income earners.' Do you know what? They're holding tax cuts for low- and middle-income Australians hostage to tax cuts for high-income earners that they want to deliver in six years time. That's what this guillotine is about. They're saying, 'Let's hold hostage the tax cuts for low- and middle-income Australians that will apply from July this year—next month—that everyone in this chamber supports, except the Greens, to tax cuts for high-income earners in six years time.' That is what this guillotine is all about. It's not about low- and middle-income earners. It's about executing a naked political tactic to prioritise high-income earners in six years time. It only needs to be said to demonstrate how ridiculous it is.

I would say this to the crossbench: regardless of your position on tax, what a discourtesy to the chamber. We gave this government 3½ hours of debate last night, because we do understand that it is important to get on with this debate. We have amendments from Senator Storer, we have amendments from the opposition and we have amendments from the other members of the crossbench which have not even been debated. Did Mathias send me a little text and say, 'Can we please have a bit more time. Give up the MPI'? No. Because, you know what, they want the timetable to get it down to the House and back up again. This week it's all entirely about the political tactics but don't worry about the Senate chamber and actually debating amendments.

I say to the crossbench: why don't you make them guillotined for tomorrow so we can actually finish the debate? How about that? You see, I can't move an amendment because he's moved the motion in a way that I won't be able to amend it. How about we guillotine tomorrow, so that we can actually have a debate? If you don't agree to finish debate here what is clear is that this government is able to walk right over this Senate chamber as a legislating chamber, because they want to execute a political tactic. This is nothing to do with anything other than holding tax cuts for low-income Australians hostage to tax cuts for high-income Australians in six years time.

It is an utter discourtesy, Senator Cormann, to me and to the opposition, when we gave you what you asked for—additional hours last night—to come in here and spring on us, during a question time debate, that you're going to move a guillotine to not allow any further debate beyond 6.30 pm, which will not even allow the crossbench to debate their changes. Senator Cormann, if you and your team think that you will get cooperation from the opposition around a range of issues you want I think you better think something else, because we're not going to allow a discourtesy to the chamber like this to subsist. At no stage were we even asked to give up the MPI today—not even that—after we'd agreed to give up 3½ hours last night. Why? Because you want a political tactic— (Time expired)


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