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Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Page: 4370


Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (16:30): If it were Friday afternoon, you could be forgiven for thinking we had had a claret run in this place. Then again, I suppose it is good to let off some steam. While we are having some fun, perhaps we can play our own version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? My first question is: which big parties in this 45th Parliament voted for a tax cut for millionaires? I will give everybody five seconds to think about it. Which two big parties in this parliament voted for a tax cut for millionaires?

Senator Polley interjecting

Senator WHISH-WILSON: You are right, Senator Polley; it was the Labor Party and the Liberal Party. Not long ago we had the Treasury Laws Amendment (Income Tax Relief) Bill, one of the first bills that passed through this Senate, which gave a tax cut to everyone in this country on an income above $87,000. So it is fascinating that we have this debating topic today, put up by the Labor Party—

Senator Polley interjecting

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I will call out hypocrisy when I see it, Senator Polley; no doubt you are working very hard to cover up for that. But let us not forget. Let's go to question 2 of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?Which party fought really hard and publicly opposed the most significant legislation we have seen tackling multinational tax avoidance, 'the Marles laws'? That was in the 44th Parliament, to add a degree of difficulty to the question. Which big party opposed the most significant legislation this parliament has seen on multinational tax avoidance?

Senator Dastyari interjecting

Senator Whish-Wilson: Yes, you are correct, Senator Dastyari; it was the Labor Party. In fact, not only did they oppose the laws which increased tax transparency in this country; Senator Dastyari put up billboards in Sydney saying that the Greens voted down tax transparency in the Australian parliament. Every chance we get we ask the ATO at estimates—

Senator Dastyari interjecting

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Are you doing a war dance, Senator Dastyari? I cannot hear exactly what you are saying.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Leyonhjelm ): Order! To the chair, please.

Senator Dastyari interjecting

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Dastyari!

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I have obviously hit a raw nerve. Senator Dastyari seems very agitated. The Greens took carriage of that bill, as we did for the tax transparency bills, and we opposed the tax cuts for millionaires in this parliament for the simple reason that we know we have rising inequality in this country. We as a parliament owe it to the Australian people, to those who are less well-off in this country, to at every chance call out inequality, and legislation that adds to inequality, and do everything we possibly can to combat that. That is why my party, the Greens, has taken a consistent stance to always oppose tax cuts for millionaires, as we will for any future legislation.

We have also put up some very positive policy solutions to raise revenue—none less so than this week in which this parliament, which I never would have thought possible even six months ago, passed legislation taxing the big banks. That is right. We have gone to the big end of town, some of the most profitable banks in the world, to raise billions of dollars to pay for schools and hospitals. We know the track record of this Liberal government in the last four years has been zombie cuts targeted at the most vulnerable in this country—pensioners, students, the unemployed, the sick and the elderly. Well, we managed to get money off the big banks.

But guess who are throwing mud every chance they get at taking money off the big banks? It is the last question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Yes, it is the Labor Party again. They are throwing mud at the first opportunity that I have seen in my time in parliament to get legislation up and put in place to take money off big, powerful corporations—$5 billion to $6 billion to help pay for schools and hospitals. So if we are going to be consistent today let's not forget that the Greens are in this parliament and in the Senate to hold big politics to account when they get in bed with big business.