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Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Page: 4417


Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (19:25): This week the government is increasing taxes, such as the Medicare levy. An Australian earning just $80,000 a year will be forced to fork out an additional $400 a year. We should pause for a moment to reflect on the fact that $400 is a lot of money for Australians earning $80,000 a year. How many people on that income—or even on a somewhat higher income—could spare $400 and not notice it? This increase will make it harder for them to take a holiday, buy a car or put together a deposit for a house. So much for the better days ahead.

At the time he announced the hike in the Medicare tax, the Treasurer, Mr Morrison, described it as 'helping out a mate'. I think Mr Morrison has a funny idea of what mates do. If somebody took money from me with a threat of sending me to jail if I failed to let them, I would not call them a mate. At best, I would call them a person with a monumental sense of self-entitlement who needs to get their own house in order before getting into mine. I might call them a parasite, but certainly not a mate. There is nothing fair about a tax that is effectively a fine for doing well. Mateship is supposed to be about fairness and mutual support. It is supposed to be about give and take, but it seems that the major parties know only how to take. This government is like a deadbeat mate—the one who expects everyone else to help him move house but goes missing when it is his turn to help. It is only later that you discover that he was going out with your sister. This government is the type of mate who drinks all your beer, disappears when it is his turn to shout, and vomits on your couch. It is the kind of mate who borrows your car and ruins the gearbox.

This government is not a mate—but it could be. If it got its spending under control, the government would not need to pick our pockets. It could stop giving away billions each year to noncitizens. It could discover the wonderful world of means testing and stop handing out money to people who are not poor and do not need it. You may say I am dreaming, but I imagine a time when the government could be a real mate, a wingman who is always looking out for our best interests and never cramping our style. It could be like that person for whom we could do a favour with total confidence that the favour could be returned. And like a real friend, it would tell it like it is, instead of hiding the truth by calling something a levy instead of a tax or by describing wasteful spending as an investment. By using euphemisms and spin, the government tries to hide the truth with all the sophistry of a teenager caught shoplifting condoms at the supermarket. Who knows: if the government cleaned up its own act, it might one day be able to give some money back so that its mates could spend their own hard-earned money in the way they know is best for them. We could all shout each other a beer to celebrate. Sadly, none of the major parties seem to know what true mateship looks like, because real mates do not force mates to hand over their hard-earned money.