Questions Without Notice - Taxation (2)

June 25, 2018









Senator CHISHOLM (Queensland) (15:16): I can say one thing to Senator Colbeck: we're absolutely happy to make the Braddon by-election a referendum on these corporate tax cuts, because the people of Braddon will know, along with the rest of Australia, that the government's focus is a purely ideological agenda, and you can see that.

I'm still relatively new to the Senate, but when this debate was on last week and when they guillotined and rammed it through, it was one of the few issues I've seen in this chamber that has united the Liberal Party. So much in this place divides them—when it comes to energy, when it comes to the environment, when it comes to school funding. But when it comes to tax cuts and when it comes to corporate tax cuts, the whole Liberal Party speaks as one. That's because—and this is the danger for Australians—it is absolutely an ideological pursuit that those opposite want to make. You need to look at the direction of this government and also understand the long-term consequences of this, because this is what their priorities are. Last week it was tax cuts for millionaires; this week it's tax cuts for big business. And who benefits from this? Millionaires, big businesses and the banks, as Senator Singh said: $17 billion of the $80 billion goes to the banks.

This is their vision for Australia. These priorities reflect their vision of Australia. They think that if big business is doing well, if rich people are doing well and if the banks are doing well then the rest of Australia will flow on; they'll get the crumbs. Well, we on this side disagree with that. We know that when Australia is doing well regional cities are doing well, small towns are doing well and outer suburbia is doing well. That's what Labor wants to invest in. That's why you see the differences and the divide between the government's priorities and the vision they have for Australia, which is all about the big cities and all about big business. It's not about small communities and regional towns, who the government think will get the crumbs. But here we understand that the key for those places is investing in education, investing in the school system. That will actually give the best benefit economically over the long term. The government's own economic modelling, when it comes to the tax cuts, showed that any benefit is 20 or 30 years away and is miniscule. Yet the direction of this—and this is why it is an ideological pursuit from those opposite—is that this also, from their point of view, locks in looming cuts. That's where it will lead: handouts for big business and looming cuts to essential services. The Australian people will be able to work this out.

These are the facts. We know there'll be very little benefit to electorates like Braddon, and Longman in Queensland, and that they will suffer the consequences of what those opposite have done. I think the interesting thing about the ideological pursuit by the Liberals is the fact that the Nationals, who would once have stood up to the Liberals, are happy to sit there and watch this happen. They've abandoned the electorates that they purport to represent. In outer suburbia in Queensland and in regional communities, the Nationals are nowhere to be seen standing up and fighting the Liberals and defending those places that need government support. They're happy to vote with their ideological partners and to see this.

What we know is that those cuts to health and education that would be a consequence of this will have, over the longer term, a detrimental effect on those smaller communities and on those regional towns. They actually rely on those services to get ahead. They rely on those services to attract people to come and live there, whether it be health or whether it be education. It is the lifeblood of those communities, which those opposite don't understand. They just see that if there's a benefit to the big end of town, if there's a benefit to capital cities, then somewhere down the track that will flow on to regional communities. We know that isn't the case, and on this side we will absolutely stand up to it.

Senator Colbeck came in here and tried to run the line that there would be some benefit to parts of Tasmania. We know that that is absolute nonsense. We know that it is those smaller communities, it is those regional towns, that are going to suffer the consequence of the ideological pursuit of those opposite. I'd say to the Australian people that you absolutely need to understand the priorities and the direction of this government. It is to favour the big end of town, it is to give a tax handout to banks at the expense of essential services. This will be what they pursue, and this will be what the next election will be fought over. You'll have Labor promising tax relief for those who need it the most, as well as ensuring fair funding for health and education into the future so that those communities can rely on it. (Time expired)