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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 84

Mr BARRESI (2:48 PM) —My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Would the Treasurer inform the House of the government’s approach to tax policy? Is the Treasurer aware of any alternative approaches?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —Can I, firstly, acknowledge the member for Deakin and congratulate him on the way he represents the electors of Deakin. I think all people who are against thuggery in Australia will be hoping that he is re-elected against the ETU candidate in Deakin, Mike Symon—the Dean Mighell ETU candidate in Deakin. I say that in passing because this Leader of the Opposition is so deeply in hock to the brutal face of trade unionism in this country that he just does not know how deeply he is in hock.

This government believes in cutting taxes where we can do so. Consistent with balancing our budget and paying off debt, and consistent with funding medical services, pharmaceutical services, defence services and educational services, we believe the tax burden should be as low as possible. That is why on 1 July those Australians who pay income tax will be receiving another income tax cut. 1 July is income tax cut day. It will be done in two ways: by increasing the low-income tax offset and by shifting the threshold for the lowest rate from $25,000 up to $30,000. I also want to remind Australians that, if you happen to be an age pensioner, this week you will be receiving a bonus of $500. Every age pensioner will be getting $500 and every age pensioner couple will be getting $1,000 in recognition of the work they have done in building this economy.

I also want to remind all Australians who are self-funded retirees and entitled to the seniors concession allowance that this week they will be receiving a bonus of $500 for an individual and $1,000 for a couple in recognition of the work that they too have done in building the Australian economy. These are some of the social dividends that you can get from running a strong economy—help for the age pensioners, help for the self-funded retirees and income tax cuts for all Australians.

I do not want to let the session end without remembering some of the great milestones in this House in previous years. This is the last sitting day before the nation gets to the annual commemoration of ‘fundamental injustice day’. Fundamental injustice day was 30 June 1999. We have heard great speeches in this House but none in their own terms were delivered in a way which was designed to last 100 years so that, in 100 years time, men would still say that this was the finest hour of the member for Griffith. Let us remember his words on 30 June 1999. He said earnestly to this House:

When the history of this parliament, this nation and this century is written, 30 June 1999 will be recorded as a day of fundamental injustice—an injustice which is real, an injustice which is not simply conjured up by the fleeting rhetoric of politicians. It will be—

Mr Albanese interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Grayndler is warned!

CT4 Costello, Peter, MPMr COSTELLO—he was rising to the occasion—

recorded as the day when the social compact that has governed this nation for the last 100 years was torn up.

I think what he had in mind is that, if this parliament and its people should last for another 100 years, men would still say this was fundamental injustice day. Let me say what has happened since fundamental injustice day on 30 June 1999. We cut tax on 1 July 2000; we cut tax on 1 July 2003; we cut tax on 1 July 2004; we cut tax on 1 July 2005, 2006, 2007; and we will cut it again on 1 July 2008. Sometimes in public life, you come across people who have lofty rhetoric which is not matched by underlying values and underlying policy.

Mr Swan —Like your lack of courage.

Mr COSTELLO —Oh Swanee, how I love ya, how I love ya! If it had not been for me, this day would have been forgotten. I have single-handedly rescued fundamental injustice day.

Mr Swan —Like your lack of courage.

The SPEAKER —The member for Lilley is warned!

Mr COSTELLO —I have stamped it in the minds of Australians forever, and I hope that when they think about fundamental injustice day, from this day until the ending of the world, they will know that here was fraud if they ever saw it.

Honourable members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! Members are holding up their own question time.