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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4407


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (18:58): I rise to support these amendments because 10 million Australians deserve a fair dinkum tax cut next year. We have seen this economy being mismanaged for the last five years. The cost of living goes up and up and up. Private health insurance companies know a soft touch when they see one in the government. The out-of-pocket costs of Medicare are going up and up and up, and wages growth is flatlining. Energy prices—well, that's just far too hard for this government to fix. This is why the government should support a fair dinkum tax cut for 10 million working Australians. The look of stunned surprise on a government not known for its innovation when it heard on budget reply night that Labor was able to support a tax cut almost double that of the government's speaks volumes for the lack of imagination of this government.

What we endure in question time is the Liberal Party and the National Party saying that they will offer lower taxes to Australians. Well, if they vote against this amendment they are wrong, wrong wrong. Only Labor is offering 10 million working Australians almost double the tax cut next year of this government's tax cut this year. Labor supports the plan on 1 July this year—of course we do—but next year we want to do almost double that. Labor can offer lower taxes for 10 million working Australians because we can pay for our promises. Look at the Treasurer. We know he's listening—he's just pretending not to! He wishes that he had thought of our idea. But he can't—because they have already sold the budget to the top end of town. We can afford to pay for our much better tax cuts for 10 million working Australians because we're not giving $80 billion away, most of which goes to the top end of town. Only a government truly arrogant, truly out of touch and truly in the pockets of the big banks—they're giving $17 billion to the big banks—

Mr Sukkar interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: The member for Deakin knows I'm right. Only this government would offer $17 billion to the big end of town and the banks whilst denying working Australians a tax cut of about $20 week.

We can afford to pay for our promise to give 10 million Australians lower taxes because we've made genuine economic reform proposals which we'll put to the people. We will reform negative gearing. We won't be handing out income tax refunds to people who don't pay income tax. We will tidy up the family trust discretionary situation, where the lucky few can income split and the many cannot. But not only, when they vote against our amendments, can they no longer say that they are the party of lower taxes; not only can they not say that Labor can't afford the promise because, in fact, every day they go around the country saying the problem is that Labor has made economic decisions and they are not prepared to give away corporate taxes to the big end of town. They know we have a better tax offer, a better income tax cut, for 10 million Australians. They know we can pay it. But they also know the final fact of the matter: they know we have a better economic plan. This Treasurer's budget on the Tuesday night was so devoid of information. It was a statement of residual accounts of the nation, with their sneaky cuts to hospitals and schools and TAFE baked into it.

We can assure Australians that we have a winning trifecta for the middle class and working class of this country. We can afford to this pay down our national debt faster because of our genuine economic reforms. We can afford to properly fund our schools, reverse the $17 billion cuts that these Luddites are inflicting on the children of the future, properly fund TAFE with 100,000 places that the upfront fees pay for and provide 200,000 more university places. We can do the trifecta of better income tax, better deals for hospitals, schools, TAFE and universities and pay down the national debt—because we have a plan. I say to the government: if you vote against these income tax cuts tonight, we will remind you every day between now and whenever the by-elections are and whenever the election is. The next election will decide the future of this country. It will decide what sort of society and what sort of direction we want. It will decide whether we want trickle-down economics, from the representatives of big business, or fair go economics where Labor puts 10 million Australians first, second and third.