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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 9770


Senator CONROY (VictoriaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (09:52): What we are seeing here this morning is one of the more spineless performances by a man who models himself on Andrew Murray. You are modelling yourself on Andrew Murray. He will be urging you to vote for a GST of 15 per cent on food next—that is where he will be. That is exactly where he is going to be next, because he is just so desperate. He has got a bit of pressure. It will not be long, Senator McKim—you will have that seat all to yourself, don't you worry! But you know what they say in the classics: you cannot stab someone in the back until you are right behind them—and we know you are right behind him! And you deserve it. After watching what has happened this morning, we will be voting for you, don't you worry! What you have agreed to today is to keep protecting tax avoiders in this country, because you will remember, Senator Whish-Wilson—

The PRESIDENT interjecting

Senator CONROY: Through you, Mr President—

The PRESIDENT: To me.

Senator CONROY: Senator Whish-Wilson will remember my last contribution on this particular topic where we talked about wanting to expose the fact that companies were not paying tax. We wanted the details to be out there. We have both been seeking to achieve this, and you have now turned your back on it. You have now turned your back on making sure that Australians know how little tax is being paid by these corporations and these entities. You are now allowing the Australian public to be kept in the dark because the big end of town put the weights on those people over there. I never thought you would cave to the big end of town.

The PRESIDENT: To the chair!

Senator CONROY: My apologies, Mr President. I never thought that the Greens would cave to the big end of town's cries. But that is exactly what they have done. The Australian public deserve to know the truth, and the Greens are now standing behind the government in protecting the big end of town—

An opposition senator: 7-Eleven.

Senator CONROY: As one of my Senate colleagues just said, 7-Eleven—hiding, because of you Greens. All that has gone on at 7-Eleven is now being hidden because of you. They are protected by what you have just done. They are protected because of you. Tax avoiders in this country can lift a glass today and go, 'Yoo-hoo!' to the Greens, and, 'Thank goodness Senator Di Natale's in charge of them! Thank goodness!' because you Greens are contributing to making sure Australians do not know the truth.

I thought, from listening to their contributions when the Greens spoke last time, that they actually believed in what they were saying and that they actually believed that they wanted the big end of town to have to explain how they organise their tax affairs: how they put them through the Cayman Islands, how they put them through Bermuda—how they put them through all those tax havens. I actually believed you when you stood up and gave those speeches. I believed you wanted the Australian public to have this information. And you have now exempted 80 per cent of the companies. Eighty per cent of the companies that should be revealing their tax affairs are now not. So the scam will go on.

The party of the big end of town have got some new best mates. Your supporters will realise that you have sold out. When we had the numbers to make the government agree to this bill, you folded. You are spineless! And when your supporters realise how spineless you are, and the path you are taking them down, they will know what to do about it. They will desert you in droves when they find out you are protecting the big end of town in tax.

I expect that. The Greens are now the friends of the tax avoiders. We know the government are. We know the government are the friends of the tax avoiders, but you Greens now join them in this hall of shame, because we had the numbers—combined, the opposition, the Greens, the minor parties and the independents had the numbers to get the truth made available to the Australian public. You know what a joke the tax system is in how it works—just like how Google and all those companies turned up in front of the British inquiry and said, 'We only pay the amount of tax you ask us to pay. How can you be attacking us?' They were mocking the stupidity of those members of parliament. Well, you are now doing the same to yourself and your own supporters.