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Thursday, 21 June 2018
Page: 3626

Senator KENEALLY (New South Wales) (15:15): I rise to participate in the take note debate on the answers provided by Minister Cormann to the questions I posed to him in question time regarding the Turnbull government's reliance on Senator Pauline Hanson's support for the Turnbull government's income tax scheme. Today we saw Senator Hanson, the self-proclaimed champion of the battlers of Queensland, vote once again with the Liberals, as she's done on every occasion this year, to give a great big tax cut to the battling investment bankers and barristers of Sydney and Melbourne.

The Liberal government's income tax scheme will see 60 per cent of the benefit go to the top 20 per cent of income earners. Let's be clear what that means. Only 700 taxpayers in Longman will benefit from stage 3 of the plan passed by Senator Pauline Hanson today, but 10,000 taxpayers in Wentworth will be $7,000 better off. In fact, Wentworth is ranked first in getting the most benefit from the Turnbull Liberal government's personal income tax scheme, but Longman is ranked 141 out of 150 electorates as to how it will benefit from the scheme that Senator Pauline Hanson voted for today.

In the answers given today by Senator Cormann he said that the government is grateful to Senator Hanson. I bet it is. I bet the government is very grateful for Senator Hanson. I bet the bankers of Wentworth are grateful. I bet the accountants, barristers and other high-income earners in Sydney and Melbourne are grateful, too. They are now the battlers that Senator Hanson represents. Senator Hanson had a choice. She could have voted to support Labor's plan to give every working Australian on less than $125,000 a tax cut of up to $928 a year, which is almost double the tax cut that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the Liberals will provide to low- and middle-income families. Senator Hanson voted against Labor's plan to double the tax cut for 63,000 people in Longman. Today, Senator Hanson says that teaming up with the government to defeat Labor's plan to almost double the government's tax cut for low- and middle-income earners was 'the only fair thing to do'. When the people of Longman look at the choice Senator Hanson made today to vote against a bigger tax cut for 63,000 of them and to vote for a bigger tax cut for tens of thousands of high-income earners in Sydney and Melbourne, it's hard to see how they're going to say that that was the fair thing to do.

Senator Hanson said in this Senate last year during the debate on Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 that:

They do not understand the position or possibly the intelligence of One Nation. We are a party that stands alone to look at the benefits of the policy, the legislation, that is put before this parliament …

Well, let's take a look at how Senator Hanson and One Nation managed this debate. During the debate on the income tax scheme, Senator Hanson told the Senate that:

The tax cuts are going to be up to $200,000. I'm a very fortunate Australian to be earning more than $200,000. I am paying tax of 45c in the dollar on that. I'm not getting tax relief.

Senator Hanson appears to misunderstand how the Australian marginal tax system works. By voting for stage 3, she has voted for tax relief for herself and for every other high-income earner in Australia. Australians earning over $200,000 will get tax relief under stage 3 of the Liberal's personal income tax scheme. In fact, the government's own calculator does say that Senator Hanson will get some $7,000 a year when stage 3 is fully implemented.

Senator Hanson also seems to misunderstand stage 1 of the Liberal's tax plan, which comes in the form of a tax refund that could have been passed with the support of the majority of this chamber any day this week if she had just voted to split the bill. If she had forced the Liberals to split the bill, we could have had this done and dusted and low- and middle-income earners could have had their tax relief. In fact, there was no need to even get this bill passed by 30 June. Because it comes in the form of a tax refund, it could have been passed any time over the next 12 months. No, what Senator Hanson and One Nation did today was team up with the Liberal government in a political tactic to hold tax relief for low- and middle-income workers hostage to tax relief for high-income earners. They cast in their lot to give the biggest benefit to those on the highest incomes and they walked away from giving a bigger tax cut to low- and middle-income workers.

As I said, Senator Cormann has said today that the government are grateful for Senator Hanson, and I am sure they are. What she has done today is join with the Liberal philosophy to make Australia a less fair place and to make it a place that will give benefits to the top end, hollow out the middle class and push more people into the working poor.