Tuesday, 3 August 2021
I seek leave to move a motion relating to tax policy in Australia as circulated in the chamber.
Leave not granted.
Pursuant to contingent notice standing in the name of Senator Waters, I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to provide that a motion relating to tax policy in Australia may be moved immediately and determined without amendment or debate.
The Australian Greens are disappointed and saddened in the extreme by the recent policy capitulation of the Australian Labor Party—namely, that, should they win government at the next election, they would not repeal the stage 3 income tax cuts, they would not make any changes to the current negative gearing arrangements and they would not repeal the capital gains tax concession. This absolute capitulation means that, whether it is the Australian Labor Party or the Liberal—
Senator McKim, I remind you, and any other senators who may speak in this debate, that the purpose of moving the motion and speaking to it is to inform the Senate of why the matter is urgent, not going to the subject of your motion.
Thank you, Deputy President. This matter is urgent because this is a very recent utter policy capitulation by the Australian Labor Party that will have a massive negative effect on everyone except the absolutely wealthy and superwealthy in this country, and it means that, whether it is the LNP or the ALP that sits on the government benches after the next election, we will see spiralling economic inequality in this country. The rich will get even more rich, and for everyone else the task of making a good life will be made even harder. This cave-in sells out working people by putting nurses and teachers on the same income tax rate as managers and consultants who earn up to $200,000—
Senator McKim, resume your seat, please. I have already drawn to your attention that the purpose of this debate is for you to explain to the Senate why the motion is urgent. That's what you need to go to, not the substantive matter of your motion.
It is an urgent matter because the Australian Labor Party's policy capitulation sells out working people by putting nurses and teachers on the same income tax rates as managers and consultants on up to $200,000 a year. It sells out anyone who is struggling with the cost of housing by continuing to allow property investors to rack up their third, fourth, fifth, 10th or 20th investment property with the help of a massive public subsidy. This is urgent because these decisions mean cuts, into the future, on essential services like health and education.
Senator McKim, please resume your seat. The purpose of the standing order that you're using is for you to explain to the Senate, not to go to the heart of the motion of why it is the Senate must entertain your urgency motion today. I would ask you to reflect on that for a moment and to go to that substantive matter, not the matter of the motion. Thank you, Senator McKim.
The sentence I was uttering when you interrupted me, Deputy President, literally started with the words 'This is urgent because'. That is exactly what I am doing. It's urgent because it will mean house prices continue to spiral out of control, making more older women homeless and forcing young people—
Deputy President, on a point of order. I am concerned that Senator McKim is either acting in defiance of your rulings or is not understanding your rulings. The motion before the chamber is one to suspend standing orders. The debate, that you have been seeking to inform Senator McKim that he should be undertaking, is one about why it is that the motion itself needs to be considered now and warrants the suspension of standing orders. Just framing his statements with the words 'This is urgent because' and then going on to debate the policy substance of the motion he seeks to have debated is not mounting a case in relation to the suspension of standing orders. Thank you, Deputy President, for your ruling, but I would certainly urge all senators to understand the nuance of what the question before the chair is and relevance to that particular question.
On the point of order, if you were to accept the proposition put to you by Senator Birmingham, you would effectively be saying that in order to stay within the bounds of the standing orders no reference at all can be made to the substantive issue. That is, patently, a ridiculous proposition that Senator Birmingham is putting and would constitute an unnecessary restraint on this debate, and I urge you to reject his point of order.
Senator McKim, I have ruled. It is a rule; it's not a debating point. Of course you can reference your motion, but what I've heard you speak to since you got to your feet is only the motion, and you have not referenced why it is that this motion is so urgent that we have to stand aside the business of the Senate for today and deal with this motion. That's the issue at heart. It's not for you to immediately go to the motion but to explain to the Senate what's urgent about it. I would ask you to respect my ruling and to explain to the Senate, without a great reference to the actual motion, of why it's urgent that this matter be dealt with now.
We need to suspend the standing orders because it is urgent that we bring this motion on for debate—because of the impact of the Australian Labor Party's policies, which will mean that young people, whether they be renters or prospective homeowners, will need to spend more and more of their income in putting a roof over their head. So why has Labor caved to give tax cuts and tax breaks to the millionaires and billionaires?
On a point of order, Deputy President. You've been quite clear with respect to the application of the standing order. I have been listening to Senator McKim very closely. I have not heard him say one point in favour of the matter as to why this must be discussed now as a matter of urgency. It is all about general policy points.
Thank you, Senator Scarr. Senator McKim, you started off well, about explaining to the Senate why the matter was urgent, and then you did go back to the substantive motion. I'd ask you to continue in the vein of explaining to the Senate why the motion you've moved, that the Senate deal with the matter now, is the urgency.
It is urgent. We need to suspend standing orders because the planet is cooking. Neoliberalism is taking over in this country because every time the Labor Party caves in the Liberals take the win and move the contest further to the Right. Climate change is critical. It is an urgent issue and it should be debated as a matter of urgency by the Senate. This kind of approach by the Labor Party is how we've ended up in the neoliberal mess that we're in on tax, on housing and on public subsidies for fossil fuels. They're very uncomfortable about this in the Australian Labor Party—
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McKim, please resume your seat. Senator Wong?
A point of order on relevance. Senator McKim is now not only refusing to debate the reason for suspension; he's actually even gone beyond the substantive motion. We've gone even further—and he's laughing! We all understand why you're doing this; it's a bit of a stunt. I want to express some of our concerns about the treatment by those two male senators of the Deputy President in this discussion. I want to register that.
Honourable senators interjecting —
Here we go again. I am registering—
Honourable senators interjecting —
You always interrupt us, don't you? Senator Hanson-Young could teach you something.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McKim, I was allowing you some leniency to get back to explaining to the Senate the urgency of the suspension that you've sought. Please continue.
The urgency, Madam Deputy President, with the absolute greatest of respect to you and your position; Senator Wong and hers; and anyone else in this chamber, is simply that the debate that we are seeking to bring on relates to critical and urgent issues in the Australian public conversation and the point that whenever Labor adopts a small-target strategy the Liberals take the win and move the goalposts further to the Right. That is the urgency of this matter. That is why it should be debated by the Senate today. The Australian people want the Australian Labor Party to stand for something and to stand up for them on these urgent issues that urgently need debating in the chamber today, which is why we should suspend the standing orders to bring on this debate. The only hope for people who want to address spiralling economic inequality in this place is to vote Green, because that is the only language that the Australian Labor Party understands. We in the Australian Greens will fight economic inequality in this country, and we invite the Australian Labor Party to join us and not capitulate.