Senate debates

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Matters of Public Importance


4:59 pm

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

This is a budget that delivers massive dividends for the super-rich. It delivers huge payouts for the government's corporate mates and political donors. But it contains very little for ordinary Australians, almost nothing for working Australians and even less for those who are out of work. The Greens thank the Australian Labor Party for moving this motion, which allows for this debate to be held, but I have to say this motion is slightly confused in focus. And I have to remind people that Labor passed the tax cuts in budget week. They fell over themselves to get out of the government's way and give the very wealthy in this country a massive tax cut. We know that the overwhelming majority of these tax cuts will not be spent in the real economy. They will be saved by people who are doing it tough—and history shows that that happened last time people got a tax cut: the overwhelming majority was saved, not spent—or, in the case of the super wealthy, they will just be used to inflate the share market and the property market. Meanwhile, people in the real world will continue to have to make do with the scraps. We've got a serious problem with wealth inequality in this country, and it is only getting bigger because of the combined efforts of the LNP and the ALP as they fall over themselves to give tax cuts to the very wealthy.

Labor's boneheaded attack on government debt makes it so much harder to fix the mess we are in. I remind senators we're in a recession, and we effectively have two choices: public debt held in common on behalf of us all or private debt in the form of things like payday loans, credit card debt and bigger mortgages. If the Labor Party wants to go down the path of more private debt, this country is in more trouble than I already thought it was. We already in Australia have some of the highest levels of household debt in the developed world, and times are only going to get tougher. We need to be using debt to transform our economy, to invest in renewable energy, to invest in green infrastructure and to build the 21st century infrastructure that we need to help us provide a good life for everyone, but at the moment debt is just being used to inflate the property bubble, to pump up the already rigged housing market and to provide corporate welfare for fossil fuel companies and weapons manufacturers. We can do better than that.


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