Senate debates

Wednesday, 20 June 2018


Consideration of Legislation

3:17 pm

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

What another great day for the Australian parliament! What a great day! We've been engaging in this debate: 'My tax cuts are bigger than your tax cuts.' 'No, my tax cuts are bigger than your tax cuts.' Where are we now? 'You guillotine more than we guillotine.' What a great day for the Australian parliament!

Let's get to the crux of what's going on here. The government are desperate to rush this bill through because it's very clear that, the more that people understand about this legislation, the less likely they are to vote for it. We had a perfect example right here only a few hours ago. We had Pauline Hanson's One Nation party coming into the Senate, with Senator Hanson herself saying, 'I don't get a tax cut out of this; this doesn't affect me,' demonstrating that she has no idea what this legislation does. Stages 1 and 2 deliver Senator Hanson over $4,000 in tax cuts. That's what they do. When you add stage 3 of this bill, she gets over an extra $11,000 in her pocket. It is very obvious that even those members of the crossbench that the government are talking to don't understand it, and the government's desperate to rush it through this chamber. That's what's going on right now. The quicker you get it through, the less likely it is that Senator Hanson will understand what she's voting for.

I rarely quote Paul Keating, but I will today. I'll quote Paul Keating in reference to another debate on tax reform. When it came to the GST and Mr Hewson, the then opposition leader, talking about his plans to introduce a GST, said, 'If you don't understand it, don't vote for it, because, if you did understand it, you'd never vote for it.' That's what Paul Keating said about the GST. That's the same advice I give to Senator Hanson. She clearly doesn't understand it, so don't vote for it. Don't vote for something you don't understand. She came in here and she impugned Senator Hanson-Young. She said, 'Senator Hanson-Young implied I'm going to get a tax cut, but I don't get a tax cut out of this.' She clearly doesn't understand the legislation.

If you vote for stages 1, 2 and 3 and you're on an income of over $200,000, that's an extra seven grand in your back pocket thanks to stage 3 of the tax cut. If you are a banker, a CEO, an executive or a politician, this package is a windfall. This is like winning the lottery. If you're a childcare worker, a nurse or a teacher, there's a few hundred bucks in your back pocket—that's true. But if you're somebody who's working in this joint, or the CEO of a bank or a senior executive at a large corporation: thank you; that's thousands of dollars in your back pocket. This is a prescription to turbocharge inequality in this country.

When you hear a debate in this chamber and when you hear the Labor Party, the Liberal Party and members of the crossbench saying, 'No, my tax cut is bigger, better and fairer than yours,' what you're also hearing is: 'We're going to spend less money on schools. We're going to spend less money on hospitals. We're not going to increase Newstart. We're going to cut jobs from the Department of the Environment and Energy, so we're going to lose threatened species in this country. We're not going to invest in renewable energy infrastructure.' That's what you hear. When you hear, 'My tax cuts are bigger than your tax cuts,' just listen to what that means. It means that if you're waiting in an emergency department, you'll wait longer. If you're somebody who needs to have their hip replaced and you're on a waiting list in a public hospital, you'll wait longer. If you're somebody who sends their child to a public school, you'll pay more. If you're somebody who at the moment can't afford to put a roof over your head, if you're somebody on Newstart, you're going to be consigned to living in poverty. That's what this debate is.

This is a debate that is ripping money away from the vital institutions that make Australia a decent country, and it's throwing around a few pre-election bribes in the lead-up to an election, saying to people, 'Vote for me, because I'm going to put some money in your back pocket, but screw your children, who are going to have to pay for the mess that we leave behind.' The reason this government wants to rush this piece of legislation through this chamber is that it knows that the people who are about to support it don't understand it. So Senator Hanson, I say to you, 'If you don't understand it, don't vote for it.'


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