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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 14763

Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (21:31): I just got a text from Paul Keating: he is not dead. We knew the Liberal and National Parties would go to any lengths to provide protection for large private companies to keep their tax affairs secret, but we have found out now about the new coalition partner, the Australian Greens. There are the Liberals, there are the growing Nationals, and there are the Greens, all in coalition to protect Australia's private wealthy companies.

We know how we got here. The previous government knew that transparency reduces evasion. The previous government knew that one in five large private companies pays zero tax. The Liberal and National parties opposed our measures all the way, and then when they won the election they had two strategies to kill that law. One was to claim that the law created a risk of kidnapping—the kidnapping defence, which was a complete and total fabrication, as was shown when they had to admit that there was no advice. Then we had the great community campaign, the astroturf campaign—this great groundswell of support to say, 'Please get rid of these terrible laws.' It turned out it was a complete and total fabrication, and the Senate were awake to it. The Senate knew that they had been set up. But now the conspirators who set up that astroturf campaign are laughing into their cognac, because they have duped the Australian Greens. They have duped the Liberal and National parties. Today Ian Macfarlane joined the National Party and Adam Bandt joined the Liberal Party. That is what happened today, in a great coalition to protect those who need little protection.

What we know is that the Greens have struck a deal. They think they did a good deal. The Leader of the Greens in the Senate today said 95 per cent of something is better than 100 per cent of nothing. Well, guess what: they doubled the threshold. That would be bad enough if that halved the number of companies who were captured by this change. That would be a terrible result. They might have thought that. I will give the Greens the benefit of the doubt: they might have thought they were simply halving the number of companies that are captured. What they did is reduce the number of companies captured by two-thirds. Well done to the Greens party: you managed to double the threshold and reduce the number of companies affected by two-thirds. That is the sort of deal that the Greens negotiate on behalf of their supporters. No wonder they have been deluged with complaints from the Australian people today. The Greens have become the tax transparency traitors of Australian politics, joining with the coalition. At least the coalition have always been clear about who they represent: the big end of town. The Greens have pretended otherwise, and they have been exposed.

What they have done is show that they are gutless—the gutless Greens party of Australia, in coalition with those opposite in a desperate play to deal themselves in. But in dealing themselves in they dealt away their principles. They dealt away everything they stood for. What they did is join with the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, in his lovely green tie he has worn especially for the occasion for his new coalition colleague, the member for Melbourne, who should explain to the voters of Melbourne why he has worked with his colleagues in the Senate to protect Australia's biggest private companies. They have done a terrible deal on behalf of the Australian people.

What they have done is said that the government would not accept the amendments in the House. They said, 'We have to give up.' The Greens put up the white flag, because they said, 'The government will not accept it.' Why do we bother with Senate amendments? Why does the Senate bother? Why do the Green senators turn up if every time they say: 'Oh dear! The government might not accept our amendments. Oh no! We just worked out that the Liberal and National parties have the numbers in the Green room, so we better just fold and surrender in the Senate.' That is what the Greens decided to do today. I saw the Leader of Australian Greens say: 'I'll give you a lecture in how Australian politics works. The Liberal and National parties have the numbers in the House of Representatives.' Therefore, we must bend to their will, according to the Greens—these quislings of the tax debate, who have decided to surrender tonight in a shameful effort which has shown how they really operate.

We know what the Liberal and National parties stand for. We know how they operate. They have always been clear about it. They are not for tax transparency. They are not for better tax collection from large private companies. They have never pretended that they are, but the member for Melbourne has and Senator Di Natale has. We know that there is a Greens revolt over this issue, as there should be. We know that it is not just honourable members opposite who are tired and emotional tonight. There are also Greens who are angry, as they should be.

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my right will cease interjecting.

Mr BOWEN: It is the countdown to your debate.