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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 2937

Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (16:14): Today in question time Senator Wong asked Senator Cormann, as she also did yesterday, to provide this parliament with the revised total cost of corporate tax cuts over the 10 years from 1 July. She asked the question today. She asked it yesterday. It was also asked in the other place of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. But the Prime Minister and the Treasurer and, again today, the Minister for Finance, have refused to answer this question. They have refused on some four occasions now. They have refused to answer whether or not the total cost of Prime Minister Turnbull's big corporate tax cuts over the next 10 years, from 1 July this year, is more or less than $100 billion.

Why won't they answer this question? Why are they so scared to tell the Australian people exactly how much of their tax is going to corporate Australia? Corporate Australia does not need this money. Australians know that very clearly, because by just turning on the TV they can see the profits of Westpac or the Commonwealth Bank. They see exactly how much profit corporate Australia is making. They know very well that it does not need a tax handout from this government. But this government refuses to tell the Australian people exactly how many billions of dollars it's going to cost.

The reason the government don't want anyone to know is that this budget takes money away from Australian taxpayers. It takes it away from schools—some $17 billion—and gives it to big corporations who make record profits and who do not need government handouts. This is a budget that takes taxpayer dollars out of our health system and out of our Medicare system and gives them to big banks—banks who report record profits and don't need a tax cut. How is that fair? It is not fair, and that is why they are hiding the largesse of these corporate tax cuts.

What we have in this budget is Australians who are going to miss out. They will miss out on great schools, on world-class hospitals and on a chance for a better education and TAFE system because of the fixated, antiquated, backward and trickle-down-economics view that this government has and its desire to use Australian taxpayers' money to look after the wealthy end of town—the corporate end of town. As we know, this is the corporate end of town that has shareholders, board members and investors that aren't even in Australia. So how on earth is this money going to provide any benefit to Australians? It is not.

Australians are being robbed by this government, robbed of their hard-earned money and the taxes that they pay. And they deserve better. They deserve the services that they expect the government to deliver. They deserve decent public hospitals. They deserve, in this country, a decent public education system where, no matter what your postcode, you end up getting a really good education. That is the country of the fair go that Australia stands by and that we all want to live by—but not those on the other side of this place; not the Turnbull government. The Turnbull government want to look after the banks, the corporate sector and the wealthy end of town, because they don't care about everyday average Australians; they don't care about Australians that are doing it hard to make ends meet. And they certainly don't care about older Australians. They don't care about pensioners. They don't care about those in our aged-care sector, who are crying out to this government, saying: 'Come on! What are you doing? Why are you robbing us of all those years of hard-earned money and the taxes that we paid, to give it now to the corporate end of town?'

This budget is an absolute disgrace when it comes to fairness. There is nothing that this government can say that is going to make Australians believe it is somehow sensible, decent or honourable, or that it has any integrity, if it gives $80 billion of taxpayers' money to corporate Australia—corporate Australia, who continue to record profits. Good on them for getting record profits, but they should stand up and say, 'We don't need Australian taxpayers' money to get there.'