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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 2935

Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (16:04): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Cormann) to questions without notice asked by Senators Wong and Marshall today relating to the 2018-19 budget.

One of the greatest cons ever perpetrated on the Australian public is the myth that the coalition government has some sort of economic credibility. I think if anyone was watching question time today or yesterday in the Senate or the House of Representatives, they would have seen evidence of that myth being completely demolished. Here we have a budget perpetrated on the Australian people which is a budget that is good for the Liberal Party. It is not a budget that has the interests of Australians or this country at its heart. It is a budget that is purely about re-electing the Turnbull government. And what is the best demonstration of that? It is the government's absolute lack of knowledge of the details of the tax cuts that are the centrepiece of their policy, that move into the never-never, that move into budgets not just this year but next year and the year after. They move not only into future budgets but into future parliaments.

The cornerstone of this budget is Malcolm Turnbull saying to the Australian people, 'If you re-elect me not only at this forthcoming election but at the next election, here is all this money that's going to come like Christmas to everybody in the Australian community.' Again, it is one of these great cons. It demolishes the myth. It's one of the cons and myths that's carefully constructed and supported by the apparatchiks in the Liberal Party and those that support them, like the Business Council of Australia, which we heard today in question time is not only enthusiastically supporting this government but could do more and were actually asked to do more by Senator Cormann. It is those people who, in this budget, are going to receive $80 billion in tax cuts. It is the banks that are going to receive billions of dollars in tax cuts. If this were a budget that had anything to do with being properly constructed for the benefit of Australia and the Australian people, it wouldn't give $80 billion of tax cuts to companies that don't need it and to companies that have ripped off Australians every day of the week and at the same time cut $270 million from the TAFE system, leaving working people in this country vulnerable. But the $270 million cut in this budget is on top of previous budget cuts to this sector.

We just heard a debate in this place, which went for an hour, about our submarine corporation and the ability of Australia to maintain a skilled workforce to give us the capacity to build high-level submarines and frigates in this country. And at the same time we are cutting the TAFE sector. This is an absolute disgrace. It is a construction for the benefit of the Liberal Party and the re-election of Malcolm Turnbull. As meagre as these tax cuts are for the lower income people, we support them, because those people need relief from this government. At the same time, we're seeing electricity prices skyrocket. In this budget we see pensioners losing the energy supplement, which will cost them $14 a fortnight. This is at the same time that the government is giving $80 billion worth of tax cuts to companies that don't need it and to companies that rip off those very same pensioners day after day. It is a budget that is purely constructed in the interests of the Liberal Party, and I say that that is not good enough. We can't put up with $17 billion of accumulated cuts to schools and $2.2 billion of cuts to universities. We cannot accept a budget that cuts $80 million to the ABC, one of the few places where we can get an unbiased news service. We really do have a situation now in this country where this government has simply discarded the interests of Australians and the interests of this nation for its own self-interest.

But tonight we will see an alternative. Tonight we will see what we will do in government if we are elected. What we're interested in doing is putting up a budget, a plan, that benefits our kids, that supports our older people, that helps our sick people, that doesn't discard people to permanent unemployment, with no benefits, to live on the poverty line.