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Tuesday, 30 July 2019
Page: 1125


Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital TerritoryAssistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters) (15:06): It's great to be able to respond to Senator Ciccone's motion to take note of answers. I want to pick up a couple of the points he made. I thought it was extraordinary, coming from a Labor senator, that he would decide that he wanted to talk about unemployment, because we know what the record of the Labor Party has been, not just when they were last in government but also the time before that and every time they're in government. We see unemployment going up under the Labor Party and unemployment coming down under coalition governments, and we've seen that again in recent years. We've seen strong employment growth under this Liberal-National government. It hasn't been helped by the Labor Party and those opposite. We haven't been helped in our quest to grow the economy, whether it is free trade agreements, whether it is cutting taxes, whether it is cutting red tape for small business or whether it is things like the instant asset write-off.

On most of those measures, it must be said, we have had either resistance or downright hostility from the Labor Party. We saw their attitude when it came to tax cuts. They talk about middle-income earners, middle-income families working hard. What is the Labor Party's attitude to middle-income families? Well, they think they should be paying more tax, and we saw that during the debate in this place and in the House of Representatives. We saw the sort of Vicar of Dibley approach from Anthony Albanese: the 'No, no, no, no, no, no, no—yes' approach, where they were against the tax cuts, until we had the numbers in the Senate, and then they were in favour of them. That's the Labor Party's view of cutting taxes for middle-income earners and middle-income families. It is, 'No, no, no, no, no, no, no—yes.' When did the 'yes' come? The 'yes' came when we had 39 votes here in the Senate, and they thought they might jump on the bandwagon; they didn't want to be voting against something that was going to go through anyway.

But in their heart of hearts, they don't support middle-income earners. And as they've been reflecting on their election loss and the disaster that was their election campaign, there have been more sensible voices in the Labor Party saying: 'Gee, maybe we didn't understand the aspirations of Australians. Maybe we didn't understand that when Australians work hard and sometimes make $80,000, $90,000 or $100,000 a year and are raising a family then in fact those people are not rich.' No, those people are not rich. They are in fact hardworking Australians, trying to get ahead for their families. And what is the Labor Party's prescription? What did they take to the community for them? Well, it was higher income taxes and, for those who saved for their retirements, paying more tax when it came to the retiree tax.

But I want to focus on one aspect that I don't think has had enough attention. If you look at the analysis of who particularly rejected the Labor Party, whether in places like Queensland or in other parts of the country, it was in many low- and middle-income households and seats with many low- and middle-income earners and a higher proportion of renters. I wonder why that was. One of the other approaches of the Labor Party, when it came to middle-income earners and middle-income families, was to increase rents. They went to the people of Australia with a tax on houses which would have seen the rents of ordinary working Australians going up.

Senator Bilyk: That's rubbish.

Senator SESELJA: No, it's not rubbish. Senator Bilyk can say that it's rubbish all she likes but, when it came to Labor's housing tax, every analyst pointed out that higher rents would have been the outcome. SQM, who I think did some of the numbers, went city by city on what we would see in increases in rents. We saw them across the board. Under Labor's policy, rents in Perth would have gone up by $73 a week. In Brisbane, it was $91 a week. In Darwin, we would have had $15 extra a week. In Melbourne, it was $65 extra a week. It would have been $50 a week extra in Sydney, $56 a week extra in Adelaide and $44 a week extra in Hobart. In Canberra, it was around $56 extra a week. The prescription of the Labor Party was higher taxes on income, higher taxes on capital such as housing and higher taxes on those who had saved for their retirements. That doesn't help middle-income earners. It doesn't help people get out of poverty. All it does is crush their aspiration. It sees fewer jobs. Every time the Labor Party is in government there are fewer jobs, a slower economy and higher taxes, and ordinary Australians do it tough.

We're not going to be lectured to by the Labor Party. Wages growth is starting to pick up. It's starting to pick up through a range of factors which we've been working on. There is more work to do, but the prescription of $387 billion in higher taxes— (Time expired)