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Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Page: 1528

Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (19:10): I am here to hold you to account, Senator Cormann. I am here told you to account for handing out $4 billion of taxpayers money willingly, seemingly with no economic imperative—

Senator Rice: No modelling!

Senator WHISH-WILSON: no modelling, no consultation, no committee hearing process and almost no time for submissions. It is ridiculous. We are here to hold you to account, so we are asking perfectly valid questions. It is our job; the Senate is a house of review. We are elected to this place to hold the executive and the government of the day to account, and that is exactly what my colleague Senator Rice and I are doing tonight. And the questions we have asked you—many of which you have not been able to answer or have simply refused to answer—do not look good for you. You either do not know the answers or the answers will embarrass you. Let us be very clear: this is very serious. This is not just serious because it is $4 billion; this is serious because it is going against the grain of what we need to do in this place—that is, tackle rising inequality: economic inequality across the board and inequality in terms of gender pay. That is why this is a very important debate and a very important piece of legislation. With my next question, if you would please answer it, I would like to know: is it true that the decision to have the benefits of this tax cut flowing to high-income earners on 1 October, ahead of its passage through parliament, is unprecedented? Is it unprecedented that the tax office or the tax commissioner has allowed you to do this? When has this occurred before?