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Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Page: 8190


Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (17:33): Another budget bill and another tax increase on the Australian people—a $1.3 billion tax increase. This time what is the crime of the people who are being taxed? Is it that they are engaging in bad behaviour? Is it behaviour which is antisocial? Is it something that the government of Australia says we have to stop? No. They are being taxed for being sick. They are not taxed for going to the doctor on this particular occasion but for needing medicine. This is emblematic of everything that is wrong with this government and this budget.

The Treasurer comes in here and he huffs and puffs and he beats his chest about budget repair and the need for tough choices and tough decisions. This is a tough decision for those who rely on medicines for their wellbeing. It is a tough decision on them. It is not a tough decision on the Treasurer; it is a tough decision on the Australian people who are paying the price for his deceit and mismanagement.

The Treasurer talks about budget repair and so you think: 'Maybe difficult decisions are necessary. Maybe to return the budget to surplus over time we need to make some decisions to see if government revenue can be increased.' There is only one slight problem. Not one single cent of the money in this bill will go to budget repair. It will not go towards returning the budget to surplus. It will not go to the budget bottom line. No, the Treasurer thought: 'I've got a good idea: I will wedge the Labor Party. I will develop a new fund for health and medical research.' The Australian people are awake to his games. The Australian people are awake to his deceit. They know that this is just a ruse to ensure this Treasurer's and this Prime Minister's wish to increase taxes on people who have committed no crime other than working hard and occasionally getting sick. It is what they planned before the election and what they chose to deceive the Australian people about during the election campaign.

The Treasurer this morning was on radio and said: 'There are alternatives, you know. There are alternatives to the budget. We could do other things. We could cut other things and avoid the federal parliament.' The Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Finance have been very keen to tell us over the last two months that there are no alternatives. Now this morning the Treasurer said there are alternatives. He blusters his way through in a way which I am sure the Australian people, again, will see through.

Two months, almost to the day, after this budget was introduced parliament is still debating the budget and the Australian people are still angry about the budget. We are still seeing the impact on consumer confidence and sentiment. Just today we saw the latest survey on consumer anxiety. It is up again. It is the highest since the consumer anxiety survey by the National Australia Bank started. That report nails the Treasurer and says that it is directly down to his rhetoric, his reactions and his policies.

The Treasurer says there are alternatives. I am perhaps going to surprise the House when I say that I agree with him. For once, he is right. There are alternatives, because budgets are full of alternatives. The Treasurer says there is no alternative to increasing the tax on medicine. He is wrong. He was right this morning when he said there are alternatives.

One alternative would be to drop his expensive and unfair Paid Parental Leave scheme. That is alternative No. 1. Alternative No. 2 would be to drop Direct Action, which subsidises carbon pollution in this country at a cost to taxpayers. Alternative No. 3 might be to reverse his changes to high-income superannuation. He says that everyone has to pay their way. He lectures and he blusters, but if you happen to be on a very high income, 'Oh no, we are going to give you a tax cut for your superannuation.' Alternative No. 4 might be to reverse his $1 billion gift to multinational companies that choose not to pay a fair rate of tax in Australia. He purposely withdraws a sensible tax measure to ensure that multinational companies pay their fair share of tax in Australia, a measure introduced by the previous government. One of this Treasurer's first acts is to withdraw and reverse that measure. That is another alternative.

It just goes to show this government's twisted and warped priorities. They prioritise a tax increase on people who commit the crime of being sick and people who commit the crime of needing medicine. We all have constituents who take a lot more medicine than we do. They need to because their doctor told them they need it to be well again. They will be paying more every day.

This Treasurer is so out of touch, so arrogant. He says, 'Oh, it is just a couple of middies or a half a pack of cigarettes,' as he lectures the Australian people, especially those on low and middle incomes who commit the crime of being sick. No wonder this government is the most unpopular government in its first term that we have seen in a long time. This budget is a millstone around the government's neck and the Treasurer's neck, because it deserves to be. It deserves to be because it is unfair and shows how out of touch this Treasurer and Prime Minister are.