*Satire: Leunig, http://www.leunig.com.au/ used with permission
Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (16:17): I might take up where Senator Fawcett finished off, on the things that Australians care about. Budgets are a really important opportunity for a government to not only outline its vision and its plan for the future of this nation but also what it prioritises and what its values are. If you look at this budget and you ask yourself whether you share the same values as this government, also ask yourself: what are the great challenges of our time and the great crises that we’re facing? What do you want the government to do for you in your life?
The Greens, and I think many Australians, deeply care about the climate crisis that this nation and this planet are facing. There is nothing in this budget for tackling dangerous climate change. In fact, over forward estimates, funding around climate change has been slashed. There was a bandaid package around the Great Barrier Reef, which we know is not going to fix the 50 per cent of the reef that has now died through coral bleaching because of global warming and warming ocean temperatures. We’re seeing a species extinction crisis in this country. Yet there’s no funding to deal with the loss of biodiversity in this country, which is a national shame.
The other great challenge of our time is rising inequality. What has this budget done to tackle rising inequality? Not only has it done nothing but it’s a plan and a vision, which reflects this government’s values, to lock in inequality—indeed, to accelerate it.
One of the most important tools that we have in the toolbox in this place as a government, and one of the most important weapons we’ve got against rising inequality, is our tax system.
Under a progressive tax system, which this country has had in place for some time now, higher income earners pay a higher rate of tax because they can afford to. That’s the simple principle of fairness and equity that’s embedded in our tax system. The budget plan last night was nothing short of a frontal assault on this fair and progressive tax system, a frontal assault on a fair go for all Australians.
This government wants to bring in a flat tax structure, a US-style tax structure, that we know will only lock in and increase inequality in this country. This budget might have been fine, if you’re a millionaire or someone who earns over $200,000, because you’d get an extra $7,000 a year in tax cuts, if this government gets its way. But what about those Australians who are struggling to get work. Part-time workers, workers on the minimum wage, the unemployed and those on Newstart get nothing at all.
Once again, this budget shows you what this government prioritises. It shows you what its values are and what it cares about. It doesn’t care about climate change, in tackling the great crisis of our time. It doesn’t care about inequality or the battlers in this country. The only things it cares about, first and foremost, are votes and power to make sure it stays in power. This is a desperate pitch to get votes. It’s an unaffordable plan. It’s a vision and a pathway that we do not want to see this country going down.
There’s so much more we could do to tackle inequality, if we just had the backbone to do it.
It also cares about big corporations and their rich mates. There’s nothing in here to tax. It’s a rigged system—rigged by some of the biggest, wealthiest and most powerful corporations on this planet. There is nothing to fix the petroleum resource rent tax rort. We could have brought in tens of billions of dollars, if we had gotten these companies to pay for the gas that they’ve extracted—gas and resources owned by the Australian people. There are $240 billion in tax credits sitting there and rising every day, because this government won’t fix a broken tax system. There was virtually nothing to tackle multinational tax avoidance across the board. This is a desperate pitch for votes. I hope the Australian people realise that their whole tax system and the fundamental principles of a fair go for all Australians are at risk here, if this plan succeeds. The Greens will fight this plan to the next election. We’ll stand up for battlers in Australia.
Watch the footage on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=Z7idRjszFDc