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Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Page: 857

Senator NASH (4:54 PM) —I rise to make a contribution to the debate on the Tax Laws Amendment (Temporary Flood and Cyclone Reconstruction Levy) Bill 2011 with great pleasure. It is a very interesting piece of legislation that we have before us. We in the coalition have every concern and consideration for the people who have been so tragically and devastatingly affected by the floods in Queensland. At the time, our hearts went out to them and continue to do. We will do all that we can to make sure that they have the assistance that they need to rebuild their lives. I want to take the opportunity to also note and acknowledge the very many people who have been affected by floods right across the country since before December right across the summer period. There was a focus on the floods in Queensland, devastating as they were. But there have been an awful lot of lives, families and communities affected by floods across the whole summer right across the country. They have been in our thoughts as well over what have been very difficult times for them.

What we have before us is another new tax from the Labor government. It certainly seems that whenever the Prime Minister and the government have a problem they automatically reach for the tax bucket. They put their hands over there in the little bucket and say, ‘What are we going to do?’ I should have called it ‘the ideas bucket’, actually, because there are certainly not many ideas in there. All they have is this one that they fall back on every time. When they ask, ‘What will we do?’ the answer is always a tax.

The point about this is as follows: if the government had any ability to manage the economy properly and if the government had not embarked on years of waste and mismanagement of taxpayers’ money, they would not need to try and get a tax through this parliament to fund the flood reconstruction. It is as simple as that. This government has absolutely no idea how to manage money, so they have gone to the Australian people and said, ‘By the way, we need to have another tax so that we can raise some money to help these people recover from the floods.’ It is ridiculous. We have a budget of more than $350 billion and the Prime Minister is telling us that she does not have the smarts to find enough saving measures to fund the $1.8 billion that this levy is going to raise. Many people would have had greater respect for the Prime Minister’s ability to find the savings measures to fund this. There is a $350 billion budget, and the Prime Minister cannot some savings measures to offset $1.8 billion. But no, that was not in the ideas bucket. The only thing in the ideas bucket was the tax. That $1.8 billion is going to come from the taxpayers of Australia yet again.

When I talk to people out in the community about this proposed measure from the government, there is a feeling somewhere between consternation as to why the government would even bother doing this when they should be able to just find savings measures and an absolute dislike of the fact that this government is going to put yet another tax on the Australian people. One of the things that people raise in these conversations is the effect that this is going to have on those Australian people right across this country who have already been so generous by reaching deeply into their pockets to donate to this cause, these people, these families and these communities that have been so devastatingly affected. In the true spirit of Australia, they have already donated.

Now what do they see? They see the Prime Minister turning around and saying, ‘We won’t worry about the fact that all of these very kind and generous people have donated; we’re going to tax them anyway.’ People out there in the community are quite rightly saying: ‘I tried to do the right thing; I wanted to do the right thing. I didn’t have a lot of money spare, but I wanted to contribute. I wanted to say to these people that I personally wanted to help. Now I find out that the Prime Minister is going to tax me as well.’ It is no surprise, no wonder, that those people out in our communities—and I know that my good colleague Senator ‘Wacca’ Williams has been talking to a lot of these people out in his community—are just astounded at this government. Not only are they double-dipping, they are showing beyond a shadow of a doubt that Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister, does not have the nous, the expertise or the willingness to try and find some saving measures to offset the rebuilding costs.

I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Mark Bishop)—I remind senators that cars will leave the Senate entrance for Government House at 5.15 pm this evening.