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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 9783


Senator CONROY (VictoriaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (10:43): It is with great pleasure that I get a chance to respond to Senator Whish-Wilson's earlier commentary about being on the side of the angels. If being on the side of the angels is delivering a tax bill that actually delivers a revenue outcome of an asterisk because they do not believe in it and they are not really trying to do it—they want to give themselves a political fig leaf so they can pretend to the Australian public they are dealing with the scourge of tax shifting to international tax zero jurisdictions—you have given them that fig leaf.

This is a government that belongs to the big end of town. The analysis that was done shows that the people that you have now exempted from having to reveal their tax affairs are the major Liberal Party donors. On the one hand, you are barracking and claiming you have had a victory because you have helped the government deliver its fig leaf of an asterisk of tax revenue that is a zero. You are too embarrassed to put a 'zero' in the bill. You have helped the government pretend that they are serious about making the big end of town and the big multinationals pay tax in this country. That is what you have done, and you want to pretend you have had a magnificent victory on the side of the angels. You are on the same side as the 7-Eleven guy and Gina Rinehart—go through that list of Liberal Party donors, and you are on their side. You have protected them. You have protected this government from being exposed for being the fraud it is when it talks about dealing with multinational tax shifting.

This bill is forecast to raise zero dollars on the government's own estimates, and you have all said: 'We think that's a good outcome. We're happy with the balance.' On the forecast the multinational corporations will pay zero tax, and we have exempted all these Liberal Party donors from having to tell the truth about what their tax affairs are and how little they actually pay, and you have exempted them all. You are trying to pretend, because you have got $100 million raised to $200 million, that you had a victory, that you won a compromise. When those opposite stand up to give their points of order in defence they will not do it with a straight face. Let me promise you that they are laughing at you, not with you. When you stand there and say, 'We've done the right thing'; this is the side of the angels,' keep repeating that yourselves in the mirror in your bathrooms each morning, because you are the only people you are convincing. There is no-one out there in the broader community, there is no-one in your party membership and there is no-one in the community that votes for the Greens, when they come to understand that you have sold out. You have joined tax avoiders, the tax minimisers, the big end of town and the government who is their mouthpiece. The Business Council of Australia are likely to put a press release out saying, 'Thank you, Senator Whish-Wilson; thank you, Senator Di Natale,' because you have delivered the exact amount of tax transparency that the Business Council of Australia wants. You now have their gratitude. They will invite you to their Christmas party for this, and I hope you enjoy it, because this is a monumental sell-out by the Greens.

The Greens gave us a lecture. They stood up and attacked us, because of a mix-up in a vote. This is not a mix-up in a vote; this is quite literally a sell-out to ensure that the now leader of the Greens can parade himself around and pretend he is in the centre of politics—

Senator O'Neill: He's the new Meg Lees!

Senator CONROY: I think he is the new Andrew Murray. I have been here long enough to have been exposed to both of them. The person who thought he was smarter than everybody else when it came to tax was Mr Andrew Murray, who delivered the GST—good news for the Greens, because it destroyed the Democrats. When the Democrats sold out on their core principles they collapsed, to the Greens' benefit largely, but you will now go down the same path. Your supporters will know you cannot be relied on to deliver on your principles, because as long as you have a leader that wants to be in the centre of politics, wants to be a moderate, he will sell your principles out. And you— (Time expired)

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Williams ): The question is that the motion moved by Senator Wong be agreed to.