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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3069


Senator WATT (Queensland) (15:12): We all know that this week there is going to be a large debate, probably over most of the week, about the government's proposed income tax cuts. I can tell you as a resident of Queensland that this is somewhere where people are going to be paying very close attention to this debate, including people in the electorate of Longman, just north of Brisbane. Last week it was exposed exactly how unfair the government's proposed tax cuts are when looked at on an electorate-by-electorate basis. To anyone who is familiar with the electorate of Longman, which is an electorate full of hardworking people, there are high levels of disadvantage and many low- and middle-income earners based in that electorate. It wasn't a surprise to see data from the Australia Institute reveal that when you look at all 150 electorates right across the country Longman is in the bottom 10 when you measure how much benefit they will actually get from the government's tax cuts. In short, Longman residents will get only in the low 70s as a percentage of the average benefit for all households around Australia. In other words, for a dollar given to an average household somewhere around Australia, this government proposes to give residents in the electorate of Longman only about 70c.

Of course, it's very different at the other end, and nowhere is it more different than in the Prime Minister's own electorate of Wentworth, in the wealthy suburbs of Sydney. Wentworth is the electorate, across the entire country, that will gain the most from the government's proposed tax cuts. That is because they're so weighted towards high-income earners. Not many people living in Longman are earning more than $200,000. There might be some, but most people in Longman are earning $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 or $70,000 a year—unlike the corporate high-flyers the Prime Minister hangs out with in his electorate of Wentworth, who gain to stand so much from his personal income tax cuts. That is why, for electorates like Longman, the amendments Labor will be proposing and Labor's tax plan offer so much more than what this government is offering.

When you look around the whole of Australia, you'll see that anyone earning under $125,000 a year will be much better off under Labor's plan than under what the government is proposing. That is nowhere more clearly the case than in the electorate of Longman, where 75 per cent of taxpayers will be better off under Labor's plan than under what the government is offering. Again, that's because Labor's plan is very targeted at low- and middle-income earners, the people who actually need a leg up from the tax system, rather than the splurge that is being proposed by this government to provide massive tax cuts to residents in Mr Turnbull's own electorate of Wentworth.

The other question we should be asking ourselves is how the government is planning to pay for these tax cuts that are overwhelmingly going to high-income earners in electorates like the Prime Minister's own. The way they're going to pay for it is by continuing to cut essential services like health, education, training and even pensions in electorates like Longman that really need the support. Looking just at Longman alone, the government's changes to how health is being funded in this country mean that funding from this government to the Caboolture Hospital, a very busy hospital that local residents depend upon, is being cut by $2.9 million—all to help pay for a tax cut for high-income residents in the Prime Minister's own electorate.

With cuts like this, it's no wonder that the LNP has chosen a Mr Trevor Ruthenburg to run as its candidate in the electorate of Longman. Mr Ruthenberg has a record, which we're going to be pointing to over and over again. Mr Ruthenberg served as a member of parliament in the state government headed by Campbell Newman, which became synonymous with vicious cuts to every kind of service that the Queensland state government provides. Just looking at health, Mr Ruthenburg was the state member of parliament for the seat of Kallangur, and voted with Campbell Newman to sack 700 nurses and midwives in local hospitals—thrown out of their jobs, unable to provide services to people on the north side of Brisbane as a result of Trevor Ruthenberg, the now LNP candidate. It is no real surprise, given the Turnbull government's record of cuttings funds from services, that they've settled on a former MP from the Newman government, who has experience and knows how to cut. They've said: 'That's the kind of bloke we need down here in Canberra. That's the kind of bloke who's going to help us keep cutting the health system.' There's no doubt that Susan Lamb is the best choice in Longman. (Time expired)