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Thursday, 21 June 2018
Page: 3541


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for Finance, Special Minister of State and Vice-President of the Executive Council) (09:38): The government will oppose this suspension motion, and that is because the Senate has spoken on this matter. The Senate is in charge of its own destiny. Senator Wong may try to suggest that, somehow, I did over the Senate. No. The government put a proposition to the Senate which a majority of senators supported. A majority of senators want to get on with things. A majority of senators support income tax relief for all working Australians. And a majority of senators understand that Bill Shorten and the Labor Party want to stand in the way of income tax relief for all working Australians. Let me read from an editorial in one of our daily newspapers:

It's official. The Labor Party has now forgotten—or is simply apathetic towards—the aspirational class of Australians that Labor treasurer Paul Keating created in the 1980s by modernising the Australian economy and creating opportunity for working-class people.

The Labor Party today is selling out working-class people. This is a government that is standing up for working-class people. We want to deliver income tax relief to hardworking families, and we want to ensure that working-class people have the best possible opportunity to get ahead in the future, by making sure that the businesses that employ them have the best possible opportunity to compete with businesses in other parts of the world.

We have a Leader of the Opposition who is quite happy to put businesses in the United States, France, the UK and all around the world at a competitive advantage over businesses here in Australia. He is quite happy to help businesses in other parts of the world take investment and jobs away from Australia, because that is the implication of the sorts of policies the current leader of the Labor Party is pursuing.

What we have in front of the parliament and what has been debated intently for some time now is a proposal to reduce income taxes for all working families around Australia, prioritising low- and middle-income earners but, yes, also addressing bracket creep. The Labor Party used to recognise that bracket creep is bad for families and is bad for the economy. Bracket creep is a drag on economic growth. The Labor Party knows this. The Labor Party is not opposing this because it thinks it's the wrong thing to do. The Labor Party is opposing this because it believes that its politics of envy, its undergraduate, socialist politics of envy agenda, will win it votes. We are pursuing policies to support aspiration. The Labor Party is pursuing the politics of envy because it believes that somehow that is going to help Bill Shorten get into the Lodge.

We continue to steadfastly progress implementation of our plan for a stronger economy and more jobs. We are very grateful to the crossbench for having overwhelmingly supported the government in relation to this. We're very grateful to the Senate, which determined its destiny in relation to this bill yesterday. This is just a traditional attempt at a repechage by the Labor Party. The Labor Party is not happy that the Senate yesterday decided to support the government.

Let me tell you, on the 188 occasions when the Labor Party in government, with Senator Wong as senior minister, guillotined—

Senator Wong: We never did this.

Senator CORMANN: She said, 'We never did this.'! Let me tell you, I had to vote on bills, on lots of legislation, on which we didn't have one minute of debate under Labor—188 bills were guillotined through the Senate. Fifty-three bills in one week were guillotined through the Senate—all amendments and all remaining stages in one vote—many bills without even a single word of debate spoken. The President was very generous to the Labor Party yesterday by giving the Labor Party way more leeway than President Hogg ever did. President Hogg never let us speak for even one minute to argue. Once we were in one of your 188 guillotines we were not allowed to say a single word. You took great pleasure in ramming 188 bills through, using the majority vote that you had with the Greens.

Let me just say that this is an important bill. Everybody in the community knows that this is all about Labor trying to stand in the way of income tax relief for hardworking families. Working Australians are grateful to those crossbench senators who have decided to support the government, to back up the government, in making sure that we can get this very important economic reform through the parliament in a timely fashion.