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Thursday, 21 June 2018
Page: 3627

Senator GRIFF (South Australia) (15:20): I rise to take note of the answer given by Senator Cormann to a question without notice asked by Senator Keneally today relating to the tax package. I want to once again put the Centre Alliance's position on the personal income tax bill, in light of the childish attacks that have recently been levelled against us this place. As we have frequently made clear, we support tax cuts for low- and middle-income Australians, the people that very much need it most. That is why we put forward an amendment to that effect yesterday, and when Labor copied our amendment we supported it. It is also worth noting that over the last few days Labor was all about supporting only the first part of the package, yet yesterday it was happy to support the first and second parts of the package, which provided tax cuts to people earning anything up to $120,000—an $80 billion hike from their position of just a few days ago. Labor have no qualms whatsoever about flip-flopping if it suits their own aims.

We voted to pass the full package today because we would rather see low- and middle-income earners get that promised money in their pocket than watch the whole package be dumped, as the holier-than-thou Greens and, to an extent, Labor, were prepared to. Our hands were tied, and we were forced to choose the good over the perfect, but if Labor gets in after the next election we are more than happy to support any moves they make to unravel the third stage of the bill. If the economy suffers any setback between now and 2024, when the third phase kicks in, it is incumbent on any government, be it Labor or Liberal, to do the right thing and reverse the high-end cuts.

Centre Alliance has put hardworking Australians above petty politics. The bill has been passed, and Labor and the Greens need to stop pretending this is all about giving money to millionaires. They should recognise that in an environment where wages are stagnant and living costs are going up the majority of people want and need a tax cut. Do the Greens and Labor—and Senator Storer, for that matter—really think that low- and middle-income Australians are going to be grateful that they attempted to deny hardworking Australians hundreds of extra dollars in their pay packet? My final message to them is: stop playing politics and accept reality—that is, despite you, low- and middle-income earners can now enjoy the benefit of extra money in their pockets, which could help offset their living expenses, be put towards themselves or their families and be put to good use in their community. A reminder to Labor: should you become the government in the next one or two elections, we will definitely back any bid you have to unravel the rest of the package, but for now we're not prepared to stand in the way of tax cuts that the majority of ordinary Australians want and will benefit from in this coming financial year.