Tuesday, 27 September 2022
Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers
That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Gallagher) to a question without notice asked by Senator Cash today relating to taxation.
We saw today a remarkable example of what we know is a broken promise from the newly elected government—they've already broken a promise—and then the flagging, or at least not ruling out, of more broken promises on potential tax increases in the future. As I said, we already know that the promise that the Labor Party made to the Australian people to reduce their electricity bills by $275 a year has been broken. That has been broken. The now Prime Minister told the Australian people on multiple occasions that if he were Prime Minister he would lower their electricity bills by $275. There were no conditions; there was no fine print; there was no little asterisk next to it: he promised people that their electricity bills would come down by $275. He said he'd done the modelling and it was all going to happen.
Then, within weeks of winning that election and winning the trust of the Australian people, he turned around and walked away from that promise, and we've never heard the words 'two hundred and seventy-five' come out of the Prime Minister's mouth again. Now we get vague commitments to put downward pressure on electricity prices, but there's no commitment to do what the Labor Party actually said it would just a few months ago.
Today, once again, there was an example of that. Senator Cash asked Senator Gallagher: 'Will you deliver on your promise'—not our promise; your promise—'of $275?' No, no, no; there was no commitment at all. They've already broken a core promise. It is an absolute world record for a newly elected government to break a promise that they made just months ago, and that's going to be confirmed in the budget in a few weeks' time.
Not only that; we can now see that there's going to be a laundry list of broken promises from this government. You can just see it, and there is now another one on the list, which was confirmed at question time today. When asked whether the minister could rule out any changes to franking credits, they wouldn't rule it out. Now, we all remember—it wasn't just during the election; it was years before the election—that the Labor Party said no, they wouldn't touch pensioners' franking credits. They'd learned from their mistakes—remember, from the 2019 election—and they were going to make sure that pensioners in this country could receive the full return on their investments that come through dividends and, in particular, through franked dividends, which mean that you do not pay taxes twice.
When the company that you've invested in pays taxes, it makes sure you get a credit, effectively, for those taxes so you don't get doubly taxed. But the Labor Party now, in failing to rule this out today, are putting on the table another prospective broken promise to double-tax Australian pensioners. They'll put two taxes on Australian pensioners. They'll tax the companies that they invest in. That happens. That's appropriate. Then they'll tax the income that pensioners have just to try to survive. It's very hard at the moment, with costs going up for almost everything. Food prices are going up and electricity prices are obviously on the way up. It's hard for those on fixed incomes, for those who rely on investments. They have very little ability to supplement their income with other work or other means. It is very hard for them, and the Labor Party is failing to rule out a potential tax on them.
This is very concerning, not just because of the broken promise. For anyone who is following what is going on around the world, what is happening in global markets is very, very concerning. The British pound has crashed over the weekend and remains under pressure. Government yields are up for all countries, but especially those in Europe. The Treasurer has said, rightly, that we will not be immune from these changes. But what we definitely do not need in this country is more taxes or even the prospect of more taxes, because that will kill confidence. That will presage or bring forward any potential economic downturn because investors and others will be concerned about whether the Labor Party is going to break another promise and increase taxes. They will therefore spend less today and potentially invest less. We may get the economic virus that is circulating right now primarily in Europe and a little in America. It may come to this country.
We will see in a few weeks time, when we're back here in late October, what the Labor Party does do for their budget, but it doesn't look good. The entrails for their budget are not looking good. They've got form now from breaking one promise. They're possibly about to break more. We will be watching and making sure that the Australian people understand that the Labor Party hasn't left its addiction to new taxes with the previous Rudd-Gillard government. It is on form. It is going back to form. It is breaking promises and increasing your taxes.