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Wednesday, 20 June 2018
Page: 3398

Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (11:16): I won't delay the Senate unnecessarily, but I do want to get on the record that the Australian Conservatives wholeheartedly endorse and support the government's approach to making personal income tax simpler and fairer in this country. You won't be getting ducks and drakes from us. There'll be no mysterious, 'I'll consider how it's going to come out in the wash.' I entirely support the government's package, because not only is it putting forward tax relief for low-income earners but it maps a pathway of tax relief and some certainty and surety for all taxpayers in this country.

Quite simply, we pay too much tax. Government does not spend our money well enough to maintain the punitive rates of taxation that are impacting the lifestyles of everyday Australian families. It is absurd that our tax brackets are not indexed, that they are not flatter and that more cannot be done to reduce the need for people to pursue tax schemes which are disadvantageous to a great many. For those in this place who say that they want to see capital gains tax changes or changes to negative gearing, I would argue that, if you flatten the tax scales and reduce the need for people to pursue these schemes, the benefits of them to those that are taking advantage will also be reduced. So what we should be doing is looking to lower the tax thresholds across the board to simplify the accounting and taxation affairs for every single Australian.

I also want to make the point, for the class warriors on the other side of the chamber, that about 48 per cent of Australians don't pay any net tax. The burden of taxation in this country is falling disproportionately on those who pay the most tax. That is the simple fact. If you want to reduce the tax burden, we need to reduce it, necessarily, on those that are paying the bulk of it, and we should also be reducing the cost of living and the onerous requirements that government imposes on those who are less fortunate than many of us. You can do that by reducing or taking out the government rorts and attachments that are in our energy industry. You can make our energy more competitive. You can reduce the need for people to pursue negative gearing, as I've touched upon, which will help make housing more affordable. You can reduce the bureaucracy attached to people's employment so that small business is further empowered to employ people and to drive the growth in our economy. They are the simple measures.

We don't need more government. We don't need to give more money to government. We need to get government the heck out of people's lives and let them take some responsibility for themselves. This tax package goes some way to doing that. I endorse it. I wholeheartedly support it. I hope the Senate will do that as well. If they want to have an election based upon one side of parliament putting up taxes and the other side reducing them, I say bring it on, because you will then have a commitment from the Australian people that they endorse low taxes and they think government is not worthy of taking more of their own money.