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Monday, 6 March 2023
Page: 168

Mr CHANDLER-MATHER (Griffith) (17:57): One of probably the greatest untruths the Labor Party tell about themselves when it comes to taxing big multinational corporations or repealing the stage 3 tax cuts is that, somehow, doing any of that would be electorally unpopular. But I can guarantee that the vast majority of Australians, when given the choice of making big multinational corporations pay their fair share in tax to fund the essential services we all need, or repealing the $254 billion stage 3 tax cuts to put that money towards dental into Medicare or universal free child care or more mental health into Medicare—that would be overwhelmingly supported by the Australian people.

Let's not forget that, coming into this election, the Labor Party's national primary vote went backwards on one of the most mediocre, milquetoast platforms we've seen. And, frankly, the Labor Party has already abandoned many of the principles it once represented.

Let's be clear, again, about the stage 3 tax cuts, because the last time I spoke in parliament about them I talked about the massive cost-of-living crisis facing Australia, and it has only gotten worse. How governments allocate resources ultimately declares to the public their priorities about where they think money needs to go and who deserves it. Right now we have pensioners in this country choosing between paying the rent or paying the grocery bills, and this government thinks that, rather than increasing the pension to above the poverty line, Gina Rinehart needs an extra $9,000 a year off her tax. There are single parents right now who are on the brink of homelessness, including in my electorate, because they can't afford the rent, and this government thinks Clive Palmer needs an extra $9,000 a year off his tax. There are 640,000 people right now, households, who are in desperate need of social and affordable housing, and this government thinks that we should spend $254 billion, a quarter of a trillion dollars, on handing every politician in this place an extra $9,000 a year off their tax rather than make the investment we actually need to tackle the housing crisis. Those are the priorities that the government have put to the electorate. That's where they think the money needs to go.

Let's be clear about tackling the housing crisis. Earlier the Prime Minister said in the parliament that the $5 billion figure the Greens have proposed as an amendment to the government's housing bill was plucked out of thin air—except that he had failed to contemplate that even his own government body, the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, had said that we need at least $15 billion of investment every year in social and affordable housing to tackle the housing crisis. To put that into context, the federal government want to cap housing spending at $500 million per year at most, at the same time as wanting to spend over $20 billion a year on tax cuts for people earning over $200,000 a year. There are people in my electorate right now who come every day to the free food pantry we've set up out the front of my office to get canned tuna, chickpeas and tomatoes. Some will come occasionally. One lady, having collected every day for two weeks, came back with some tea and said, 'I've taken from it so much these last two weeks that I thought I should give a little bit back.' When I compare the solidarity, kindness and generosity of people like her with the decisions that are made in this place to take from people like that and to put it into the hands of people who do not need that money, it makes my blood boil. The frustration is that the only meek response we hear from the government is, 'We promised we wouldn't repeal the stage 3 tax cuts.'

Let's consider that in the context of this super tax debate. We welcome the decision to lower the threshold on tax concessions for super, but it is true that the government, prior to the election, said that they wouldn't touch super. When circumstances change, governments also need to change their decisions. It makes sense, in the context of a historic world cost-of-living and inflation crisis, that we don't give $9,000 a year to people earning over $200,000 a year, and instead, put that money towards lifting the millions of people right now who are doing it tough out of poverty and financial stress. The Senate has the numbers to do that. The government could bring a bill right now to repeal the stage three tax cuts, and the Greens would support it. You have the numbers. The only thing holding back this country from unleashing a quarter of a trillion dollars and putting it towards building public and social housing, bringing dental into Medicare and introducing universal free child care is the fact that the Labor Party don't have the guts to make the sort of proposal that we know will release millions of people out of unnecessary financial stress.

That is the proposal that the Greens will put to the government today: bring a proposal to the Senate, we'll vote for it and we'll unleash $254 billion for the people who actually need it.