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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4372


Ms HUSAR (Lindsay) (16:29): After five years of occupying those benches over there, you would think that maybe this budget might have been an opportunity for this government to get some things right. Unfortunately, we have seen this Prime Minister set out another set of wrong priorities for this country. We see $80 billion going to big businesses and corporations, and $17 billion to the big banks. I am incredibly disappointed on behalf of all the constituents of Lindsay in this budget. It's an unfair budget that, once again, shows how out of touch this Prime Minister is and how wrong his priorities are. As the shadow Treasurer stated, this budget also fails the fiscal test even with $40 billion of additional tax revenue. Net debt for this coming year is double what it was when the Liberals came to office and gross debt, which crashed through half a trillion dollars on their watch for the very first time in history, will remain above half a trillion dollars for every year over the next decade.

A Shorten government will absolutely make different choices. In fact, we are proposing bigger tax cuts than the government for 10 million hardworking Australians, not 10 million Australians at the big end of town, who don't actually need a hand. In Lindsay, 74,000 people that I represent will be better off. That's more than three-quarters of my electorate. They'll be better off by $928, and 80 per cent will receive an increased tax refund.

This bill today introduces a tax cut scheme that is in three tranches. As the shadow Treasurer made clear on budget night, the very first post budget statement that Labor supports is the 2018 tax cuts. We think they should be implemented. We will propose and make sure that when we come to government in 2019 our tax cuts are bigger and far better than what this government are proposing, and aimed at the right people. If a Shorten Labor government is elected, everyone earning less than $125,000 will receive a bigger tax cut. More than four million people will be better off compared to what this government's offered. It's a plan we can afford and we can afford it because we're not going to give $80 billion of tax revenue to the big end of town—also known as Liberal Party donors.

The shadow Treasurer has made it clear this bill should be split. It should be split in the Senate to allow the parliament to take a detailed and considered position on each of the three tranches. It is clear the government are not doing enough for what matters to the people of Lindsay. Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister, doesn't believe in decent tax cuts for people on middle- and low-incomes, only for those who don't actually need them. The businesses who'll benefit from an $80 billion tax handout are not the people who are finding it hard to make ends meet at home. We don't know if these tax cuts are affordable to the big end of town. We have asked this. We have asked it many times and we still can't get an answer, but we're supposed to trust everything is going to be okay because they're so competent over there, as we saw earlier today when the House almost collapsed. We don't have a detailed analysis of the impact or the consequences. Labor's policy has a budget impact of $5.8 billion over the forward estimates, which we have put on display. We have let everybody know. We're not hiding anything, unlike those opposite. We have done the hard work and don't need to be reading the tea leaves.

The full picture of this government's proposed tax cuts is incredibly unclear but analysis by the Grattan Institute shows that, once the income tax package is fully implemented by 2028—I think that works out that we have to vote for this lot another two or three times—$15 billion of the annual $25 billion cost of the plan will result from collecting less tax from the top 20 per cent of the income earners. How is that fair? How is it fair that those people who are already making ends meet quite sufficiently are going to be taxed less than people who are not making their ends meet so well like middle- and low-income Australians?

It's not particularly surprising that there's more for the top end of town by this government or those people who donate to the Liberal Party. And it's starkly clear that the government's thought bubbles usually don't last a news cycle but they persist with this $80 billion in tax cuts. They've been trying to get it through since, I think, 2014, which is very unusual behaviour by this government because they normally they come up with a thought bubble and then run away from it and do a backflip. But still they persist. We know what the priority is here. This is the only piece of legislation they really want to get through; it's the only change they want to make. They don't have any other programs going forward that would make a difference to the real lives of people, particularly in the area that I represent. It's hard for people to make ends meet. Wages aren't keeping up, and services are being cut left, right and centre. We have a clear plan to bring the fair go back to the heart of our nation and to the people who most need it. We will reduce taxes for the low- and middle-income earners and invest in schools. We will invest in the NDIS instead of creating more fear and anxiety and invest in hospitals and services like Medicare, child care and aged care that every Australian can rely on, no matter what tax bracket they are in.

At the heart of this government—and I'm not quite sure but I think that might be the wrong word there, because I don't know that they've actually got a heart—they're not giving a break to everyday ordinary Australians. Instead, they're focused on their mates at the big end of town, none of whom reside in my electorate. We have cuts, cuts, cuts and more cuts for those who are relying on us. There has been $2.8 billion cut from hospitals, which includes $5 million ripped out of Nepean Hospital. This cut to our hospital mean that people I represent will be stuck on hospital waiting lists for longer. It equates to about 8,500 emergency department visits and 220 knee replacement operations. Currently, if you need one of those in my electorate, you'll wait about three years. But over in the eastern parts of Sydney you won't wait that long. It's about 30 days, I'm led to believe. A freeze on the rebate for specialists means Australians will pay even more when they visit the doctor.

They've cut $17 billion out of schools. In Lindsay, public schools and low-fee-paying Catholic schools are about $21 million worse off thanks to funding cuts. In our public schools, we educate some of the most disadvantaged young people. Most children who have a disability are in a public school, and most of our First Australians are in a public school. So when this Prime Minister comes in here and talks about giving opportunity to First Australians, he ought to think about where those cuts are coming from and who those cuts affect the most. The schools in my area, just like in all the other parts of the community where we've lost funding, are crying out for more resources, and I'm pretty sure that the Prime Minister would have been told that last week when he visited Penrith, if he had cared to advertise where he was going to be and had talked to real people instead of inviting guests only to the Town Hall meeting or politics in the pub. I'm pleased, though, that he didn't cut in the line at the local bar in my electorate. I'm not sure that he would have walked out on two feet.

Since the Liberals came to office, there have been 140,000 fewer apprentices and trainees training in Australia, which is going to lead to a skills shortage gap. You don't have to be Einstein to do the maths on that. If there are 140,000 fewer kids in training at TAFE doing apprenticeships or traineeships, you're not going to have 140,000 graduates coming in to take up those jobs. I don't know how much more we need to press this point, but it's a pretty simple mathematical equation: if you have fewer people training, you're going to have fewer people to fill those jobs. This will lead to a skills shortage, which we're already seeing. In my area, we've got a 37 per cent decline in the number of young people who are actually out there studying apprenticeships or traineeships at TAFE. So we've seen them gut TAFE. They're also cutting $98 million out of our local university and, overall, $2.2 billion out of university funding. There will be 10,000 fewer student places this year and next year. So, if you're in an area like mine where you're cutting education, cutting opportunities for TAFE and cutting opportunities for university, what do you think that might lead to? Is it going to lead to people being able to get a good job? I think it was the former Treasurer who said: 'Go and get a better job.' If you can't get a decent education, then how do you get a better job?

We have seen the Liberals cut more than $2 billion from residential aged care and dump our $1.2 billion workforce compact and supplement, and 105,000 older Australians are being left waiting for care in their homes. In the first four years alone, 375,000 Australians will have to wait longer before they can access the pension because this government wants people to work until they're 70. If you're a banker, that might be okay. But, if you're a brickie, a truckie, a carpenter or somebody who has actually had to use their hands and brains for a living, then potentially that's going to be a little bit tougher for them. It's going to be tougher on their bodies. If you're a nurse who has had to stand on your feet for your entire career, working until you're 70 is not really going to be an option. I don't need to go through what happens to your body when you age for all the older people in the audience here, but I'll let you guys figure that out for yourselves. I know older people who haven't had the opportunity of being bankers their entire lives who would struggle to work until they're 70.

The $3.6 billion hit to retirement incomes will have results for those 375,000 Australians. This is not to mention the cut to the energy supplement, which will see about two million Australians, including 400,000 age pensioners, $14 a fortnight worse off. That's $7 a week, which might not be a lot to the people in here who earn far more than an age pensioner, but $7 a week to our pensioners to pay their energy bill is quite a significant reduction. What we need for our future is a sound, fiscally responsible plan that is not only responsible but also fair, not economic policy that needs a crystal ball to work out how we're funding it.

The Treasurer has designed these tax cuts in three tranches, as I said earlier, so we need to know the impact of each of those tranches. We need the distributional impact and the impact of government decisions on families at different income levels, which we're not seeing; the impact on the budget; the full seven-year costing of the proposed measures. We did give the Prime Minister umpteen chances two weeks ago when we were here, during question time, to answer exactly what that was going to cost. His arms went up. He wasn't so much a teapot or a sugar bowl; it was like the emoji shrug—I don't know. He had no idea what the impacts were going to be. The Treasurer won't tell us what it costs and also won't tell us what the impacts and the consequences will be for lower and middle-income Australians. Whatever claim the government had on fiscal responsibility is wearing pretty thin. They came into this place shouting like a bunch of banshees about the debt and deficit disaster and then managed to crash through and triple the country's debt.

The year 2022 is quite a long way down the road. I don't know what I'm going to be doing in 2022 or 2024 and I bet that most households with budgets that will be impacted by this won't know either. I have a few kids. They'll be a bit older, I'll be a bit older and the cost of living will probably go up a little bit, but 2022 is a long way away for people to plan. How does the Treasurer justify making it easy for big business to pay less tax while slugging the people at the other end of the scale who actually need the help? Trickle-down economics—I think it's been disproven a few times. There might be a few books written on it. There is a book by Thomas Piketty. If none of you have it, you can borrow it from my personal collection. It might take you a while to get through it and you might need to reread a few of the chapters to understand that it actually doesn't work. I've asked the Prime Minister a couple of times about where this kind of example of trickle-down economics has worked in any other OECD country or, indeed, any other country, and the answer is that it hasn't. I don't think much is going to trickle down to the hardworking families in Lindsay. I will come in here every single day and I will stand up for my community and for the people I represent.

We've committed to bigger surpluses than the government projected over the forward estimates from the election in the 2018 budget. We are seeking to amend this bill into separate measures, which will implement personal income tax relief from 1 July, so that the measures can be passed by the parliament without too much delay. But let's take out the 2022 and 2024 tranches of income tax from this legislation so the detailed analysis and the review can be completed and the impacts, consequences and what it means for this country can be looked at and analysed and we can all understand it a little better. The shadow Treasurer has moved:

That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House calls on the Government to:

(1) amend the bill to separate the measures which implement personal income tax relief from 1 July 2018, so that these measures can be passed by the Parliament without delay;

(2) introduce new legislation implementing the remainder of the measures in the bill only when further financial information, including year-on-year costs of each step of the Government's full seven-year personal income tax scheme, is made available to the Parliament—

I'm not quite sure when that will be—

and

(3) support the Opposition’s personal income tax plan to deliver bigger, better and fairer tax relief to Australians."

I think that most Australians are pretty fair-minded people and they would think that what we're proposing is far better and much fairer than what this government proposes. A few of them could probably make decisions better than we're currently seeing. This budget, sadly, is giving big business and the banks $80 billion in tax handouts rather than everyday Australians who need it and is making us pay for it with these savage cuts.

I said in my first speech, from this very spot, that budgets and governments are about priorities and choices. We tax about the same, but it really goes to the heart of who we are and what we do as a country when we choose the big end of town and big tax cuts for those who don't really need it and we make our students suffer and we make the elderly suffer at the hands of a choice. It is a choice and it's the wrong choice for this country. It is the wrong choice for people in most of our communities, particularly mine in Lindsay. We've got a better plan for the future and I look forward to being in government and delivering a fairer plan than this one currently outlines.