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On Stage Three Tax Cuts

Speech given in the Senate on 7 September 2022.

People want a fair tax system. They recognise that paying tax in Australia allows us to have the quality of life that we have. Paying tax allows us to have the services that we have. Don't be conned by Senator Canavan that taxes simply come to Canberra. Taxes are paying for Medicare. Taxes are providing funds for aged care so that our elderly can actually live in dignity. Taxes are providing a world-class medical system here in Australia.

We've heard so much from the Labor government over the last 108 days about the failures of the Liberal-National government. Everything is their fault. They've inherited a total mess worse than they possibly thought. They didn't create any of these challenges, but they're going to fix them—which is great. You can't say that and, at the same time, stand by bad policy when it comes to stage 3 tax cuts. We're in a cost-of-living crisis. Yes, some people on lower wages will get some tax back. If you're a registered nurse on $72,000 a year, you'll have an extra 681 bucks in your pocket. But if you're a politician here, like Senator Canavan, on $211,000, you're getting $9,000 back. I don't see the fairness in that. I think at this time Australians would recognise that this is not the way that we want to go. This is not how we should be spending our money given the challenges that we face.

We hear from the Labor government that they can't afford to increase shared paid parental leave. That has consensus coming out of their Jobs and Skills Summit. There simply isn't the money. Well, here's $243 billion that we're going to give back, mostly to wealthy Australians, mostly to men, rather than actually spending it on things that Australians want, actually spending it on addressing the crisis that we face, the cost-of-living crisis. We've got people here in Canberra who we're now calling the working homeless. It is shameful for a country like Australia to still be considering these tax cuts when so many people are doing it tough. The Labor government should be ashamed of this decision.

When you're the new government, it is unconscionable to stand by bad policy that may have been justifiable years ago when it was legislated. Sure, there may have been an argument for it, but a lot has happened since then. We have had bushfires, a two-year global pandemic, geopolitical conflict—Russia invading Ukraine—energy prices going through the roof, rising inflation, cost-of-living pressures putting so many everyday Australians under strain, and the Labor government wants to give $243 billion to the wealthiest Australians, mostly men. It is, frankly, ridiculous, and the pressure is only going to mount. I urge you to use your political capital. We hear a lot about how popular the new Labor government is. Use that. Be decisive. This is not going away. This will come into effect just before the next election. I will be interested to see how that plays out, given how tough so many Australians are doing it.