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Monday, 26 March 2018
Page: 2118


Senator McCARTHY (Northern Territory) (15:26): I rise to take note of answers and provide responses to Senators Cormann and Birmingham. Senator Cormann said earlier on, in a response to Senator McAllister, that he has no idea how much the banks expect to save as a result of his tax cut. I can tell you how much, Senator Cormann: approximately $9.5 billion. Even despite the bank levy and even despite a royal commission, his government continues to back his mates in big business. It's important that the crossbenchers listen to this, because this is a crucial moment where they can have influence, in the right way, for the people of Australia, for the battlers of this country.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McCarthy, please resume your seat. Senator Williams?

Senator Williams: Madam Deputy President, I paid particular attention to the questions without notice to be addressed in taking note, and Senator McAllister's question, I believe, was not one of the questions that we are taking note of. Is that correct?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Pardon?

Senator Williams: In other words, I'm saying that Senator McCarthy is not speaking to the questions that were pointed out in the motion to take note of answers.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: She indicated in her opening that she is taking note of answers provided by Senators Cormann and Birmingham, and they were the answers that Senator O'Neill moved to take note of. Please continue, Senator McCarthy.

Senator McCARTHY: I'm glad we've clarified that. Let me say to the crossbenchers in the Senate: this is a crucial time, an important time, when you can influence an important decision to reflect the battlers of this country. Sixty-five billion dollars in cuts to big business should not be your priority. It should not be the priority of this Senate. The priority of this Senate should be issues like CDP, when we know that 33,000 people across this country can do so much better. When we look at the penalty cuts that have impacted on workers right across this country, where is the relief and the fairness for them? When we look at housing partnerships and the agreements that fail to be met, where is the priority of this government? It is not with the needs of the battlers of this country. And what about NAIF? There is $5 billion that has not been spent in the three years that it has been fed to be a lifesaver for companies across northern Australia. Not one dollar of a $5 billion program on infrastructure and investment, to provide confidence to this country, has been spent. If this government spent as much time as it is spending now to push, bully, persuade and provide any kind of support to crossbenchers to vote for it on working in the other areas that I mentioned that impact Australians in this country, we would be in a different place. We would certainly be in a different place.

At a time when wages growth has hit record lows, Malcolm Turnbull is doing everything he can to give big business a $65 billion tax cut and is doing nothing to stop a pay cut for workers. For workers, it is getting harder to make ends meet. In fact, under this Prime Minister, electricity prices have risen by 12.4 per cent, health prices have risen by four per cent, education costs have risen by 3.2 per cent, residential house prices have risen by more than eight per cent, and yet his priority is a $65 billion cut to big business.

What plans does this government have to address the increased cost of living? They have a plan to attack penalty rates. This time, it's hairdressers who are going to get the chop. The government have a plan to cut funding for our public hospitals. They have a plan to cut people's pensions. In fact, last week, they voted with One Nation to ensure poor women are worse off when their husbands die—an absolute disgrace. The government doesn't have a plan to end the Medicare freeze. The government doesn't have a plan to protect people's penalty rates. The government doesn't have a plan to increase apprenticeship numbers. Indeed, during question time, we heard Minister Birmingham respond to Senator Watt, saying that, yes, there has been a decline in apprenticeship numbers since the Liberals assumed power. The government's only plan, their only objective in this place, is to shamefully pass on tax cuts for their mates in big business. The government is one for billionaires and certainly not for battlers.

Senator Bushby: And ordinary Australians.

Senator McCARTHY: I'll pick up on that. Let's talk about ordinary Australians. Let's talk about the 33,000 people on CDP who are breached and have no money to feed their families. They are the ordinary Australians you are penalising as a result of your $65 billion tax cut.

Question agreed to.