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Thursday, 10 March 2005
Page: 74

Senator BUCKLAND (3:24 PM) —It is clear from what we have heard today that the Howard government, our highest taxing government ever, is committing ordinary Australians to a bleak economic future. Senator Chapman, in his comments a few moments ago, wanted us to believe that the government is not the highest taxing government. He will never convince the Australian people of that, nor will the bluster of Senator Brandis. He just will not convince the Australian people. Earlier today, in answer to a question, Senator Abetz told us—and I think it is quite farcical that he said it—that he had not seen the report from the OECD. I actually believe that he probably has not read it. He probably has not looked at it. He probably has not looked at the front page of the Australian today to see what has been written. I believe that, the same as I would believe any minister who told me that, because this government tends not to pay any attention to anything that might be critical of it. It lives in a fantasy world where it is not hurting ordinary Australians.

However, the report points out something that is very clear and should be taken note of by all politicians from all parties, federally and on a state basis. It points out that a person earning around $90,000 has already had a tax increase of around 1.4 per cent. That is for $90,000. However, the people who are paying around nine per cent extra in tax are the single parents who have two children and are earning about $35,000 a year. They are earning one-third less than the average weekly wage, but they are paying the most in tax increases. This is something that we should be ashamed to associate with. Of course, the shame belongs to the Liberal Party, because you have to ask: who is worse off—the single person earning $90,000 or the single parent with two children? It is very easy to tell. That is what is in the report. That is the report this government wants to dissociate itself from.

The folk who are worse off are people like those we see coming here and sitting in the gallery. They are the parents of the children we see coming in here day after day to see their parliament at work. They are the people who are out there doing their bit for Australia but they are being treated as second-rate citizens by the Howard-Costello government. They are the people who are struggling to pay for their mortgages and their cars, let alone for the fuel to run their cars. They are the people who are seeing their medical bills and the cost of their children’s education increasing regularly. They are the people who are worse off. It is not the wealthy in our society who are suffering; it is those people who are undertaking those jobs that many people do not want to undertake—those people who are already struggling—who are suffering, because those are the people the government never actually talks to. The government cannot hide from the real facts that are being produced. It cannot hide from the fact that taxes under this government have increased. It cannot hide from the fact that, despite all of the bluster of Senator Brandis, it is the highest taxing government this country has had. (Time expired)