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Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Page: 8294

Senator CAROL BROWN (Tasmania) (15:15): Senator Bernardi let the cat out of the bag when he talked about Gonski just being a slogan. That is not the case. Before the last election the then opposition was saying that they were on a unity ticket on education funding. Of course Senator Bernardi does not seem to be on anyone's unity ticket—he has been on the losing side so many times he just does not know how to win. I want to take issue with Senator Brandis's response to the very first question asked by the opposition, which was on the GST. As usual we do not get a straight answer from the government when it comes to the GST. They talk about being innovative, agile or creative but they do not want to talk about what their real plans are. They talk about having a conversation with the community, but it is not about that—it is about hiding what they are intending to do. We know and the community knows that they said they were not going to increase the GST. I can talk about the other broken promises that they have carried out since the very beginning of the Abbott government. Now we have Mr Turnbull, who is supporting another broken promise—the promise not to increase the GST. The community knows what they intend to do.

Senator Ian Macdonald: How can you say he is supporting it when the minister clearly said he wasn't?

Senator CAROL BROWN: Senator Macdonald may want to inject, as he often does, but we know that increasing the GST is in the coalition's DNA. They made the promise that they would not increase the GST.

Government senators interjecting

Senator CAROL BROWN: All you have to do is rule it out. You did prior to the election. You know that this is exactly what you want to do. You are trying to blame the states; you are pushing the states into a position by blaming them for having the discussion on the GST. You ripped billions of dollars out of the states' health budgets and their education budgets. You told the community a number of things prior to the last election and you broke nearly every single promise that you made. You broke your promises to the pensioners, you broke your promises to parents and families, you broke your promises to the premiers of the day. You did that as soon as you came in. An increase in the GST in Tasmania would have a massive impact.

Senator Conroy: Disastrous.

Senator CAROL BROWN: It would be absolutely disastrous. Tascoss CEO Kim Goodes has already highlighted the impact that any rise in the GST would have on Tasmania, pointing of course to the GST modelling that showed that higher income households would pay less tax as a proportion of their income if the GST rose to 15 per cent than families on lower incomes. This conversation is going on with most of the coalition backbench—most of them not named—being concerned about increasing the GST not because they are concerned about their constituents but because they are concerned about their seats. And they should be, because this is another broken promise by this government to the Australian community. Tasmania has received some of the worst impacts from these broken promises. There has been a massive impact on education and on our health system as well. We even had the Liberal Treasurer in Tasmania talking about the $2.1 billion cuts, saying 'Where is the money? Show me the money.'

Senator Bushby: You're misleading parliament.

Senator CAROL BROWN: This is your own state Liberal Treasurer who said 'Give us our money back.' This is what happened. (Time expired)