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Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Page: 11747


Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (16:57): 'Outcomes, outcomes, outcomes, outcomes'—that is how the member for Lyne opened his comments or should I say his ramble as part of his opening address to participants at the two-day tax forum last week. At least, he did not take 17 minutes to say it.

The summit was partly the member for Lyne's idea. It was part of his list of demands to support a Labor minority government following last year's federal election—and we all know how that government has panned out over the past sorry 14 months or longer. Goodness knows, if we have to put up with it for much longer, the taxpayers of this nation are going to be further cruelled, the family incomes will be further hard hit and many of the large businesses will become small businesses. Labor says it is a government for small business; that is because when they came into power in 2007 these small businesses were probably medium to large businesses.

I liked the comments of the economics editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Ross Gittins, on 5 October about the tax forum. He said:

Sorry, but the tax forum reminds me of nothing so much as a bunch of kiddies lining up to sit on Santa's knee and whisper into his ear what they'd like for Christmas. Dream on, kids. The harsh truth is that neither the federal nor the state governments are in any position to simply cut this tax or that. They're all struggling to get their budgets back to surplus.

We hear the federal Treasurer so often say how he is going to get the budget back to surplus. I do not know who he is trying to kid; I think he is dreaming.

Mr Van Manen interjecting—All they got was hard boiled lollies.

Mr McCORMACK: Absolutely. Hard boiled lollies indeed. Mr Gittins went on to say:

So one of the ground rules Wayne Swan laid down was that all proposals for tax reform had to be 'revenue neutral' - if you cut one tax you have to increase another by the same amount. You'd like to pay less income tax? No probs - we'll just increase the rate of the GST to cover it. Or maybe we could increase the rate and remove the exemptions for food, education and health care. That would make the GST a far more robust revenue-raiser.

But the trouble with last week's tax summit or forum—call it what you like—is that the big ticket item, the carbon tax, which unfortunately passed through the lower house this morning, was not on the agenda.

The biggest taxation reform that this country has ever faced was not on the agenda of the tax forum and nor was it put to the people prior to the last election. It was not on the Prime Minister's agenda when she said, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' Then, of course, we had that spectacle of the Prime Minister, the climate change minister, the Greens and the Independents lining up just a few months later saying that they were going to introduce a carbon tax. I say to them, as does the Australian public say to them: shame on you. One million lower income and part-time workers earning up to $18,200 a year will get to keep every dollar they earn without paying tax, while up to one million higher income earners on more than $80,000 a year will bear the brunt of the Prime Minister's price on carbon. Two days, 200 people and one million dollars, and the best this government's tax summit could do was to set up another committee and another review. This is in the year of decision and delivery. I mean, decision and delivery! What a joke. What a disgrace.

This government's idea of tax reform is to introduce—wait for it—new taxes. The member for Moreton knows this full well. To date, Labor has introduced and increased many taxes, including two big new taxes on mining and carbon. This government cannot name one tax that it has abolished—not one. It certainly cannot name a tax it does not like, because we all know, as the Treasurer said in his budget earlier this year, this is a typical Labor budget. Indeed it is a typical Labor budget. We all know how Labor likes to tax. The reason it likes to tax is that it loves to spend, and the reason it loves to spend is that most of the members on the Labor side of politics are ex-bureaucrats or ex-union hacks who have never had to run a small business. They have never run a small business, and they have never had the fear of not knowing where their next pay packet was going to come from. They have never had the fear of not knowing whether they were going to be able to put food on the table. All this government knows about is taxing. All they like to do is to rip the money away from farmers and families and good hardworking Australians. They do not back the people they espouse to back, the workers, but we on this side will. (Time expired)