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Monday, 16 June 2008
Page: 2126

Senator MURRAY (1:16 PM) —Senator Bob Brown’s amendments put on behalf of the Australian Greens retain the threshold lift in the 15 per cent rate from $30,000, which is what applies now, to $34,000, then $35,000 and then $37,000 by the year 2010. They also retain the low-income tax offset, which is an increase from $750 now—these are Labor proposals, by the way—through to $1,500 in July 2010. Senator Brown’s amendments retain—again the Labor proposal—the lift in the senior Australians tax offset, single, from $28,867 now to $30,685 in July 2010 and the lift in that tax offset for a couple from $24,680 to $26,680 from the period 2008 to 2010. So, like us, Senator Brown has retained the benefit of the low-income tax cuts. We should also recognise that raising the threshold of the 15 per cent rate to $37,000 by 1 July 2010 does flow through to all income levels; we do recognise that.

Where he has been tougher than the Democrats is with respect to the $75,000 to $80,000 threshold movements—and these days that is pretty well middle income. But I am not going to quarrel, as I think the thrust of Senator Brown’s remarks as to the amendments are right, primarily because the climate has changed. It has changed absolutely remarkably since the election campaign. There was no statement from Treasury, from the Reserve Bank of Australia, from the Treasurer at the time, from the Leader of the Opposition or from anyone that forecast in November 2007 the sorts of economic circumstances we are now facing. Frankly, it is tough for the new Labor government, given all their hopes, dreams, campaigning and plans, because the climate has changed significantly. So, on the basis of the arguments that I have made previously and the remarks that I have made now—even though I personally and my party are very wary of your $75,000 to $80,000 area, Senator Brown—I think on balance the Democrats support the Greens’ amendments.