HON. WAYNE SWAN MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LILLEY
MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE (HOUSING AFFORDABILITY)
FEDERATION CHAMBER, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 1 MARCH 2016
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It is little wonder that Australians are doubly disillusioned with the Turnbull government. There are reds under the bed everywhere, according to the Turnbull government. And how have we got here? We all knew, up until three or four weeks ago, that they had a solution, a plan for our economy. It was an increase of 50 per cent in a big fat tax on everything. If Australia increased the GST, everything was going to be fine. That hit the dust, and we saw some chaos.
Then we saw the Treasurer go to the Press Club and, in an incredible humiliation, stand up and say that there had been $80 billion worth of savings over 2½ years under the Turnbull and Abbott governments and then turn round and whisper, 'Oh sorry; we spent the $80 billion that we saved.' So they have got back to zero—no 50 per cent increase in the GST, no net savings. 'What are we going to do now? What is plan Q, or plan Z? What are we going to do?' So they come up with a great idea: conduct a scare campaign against the Australian Labor Party. Who has done that before? Malcolm Fraser—reds under the bed—and Tony Abbott.
We all know what the government have been about from day one. What joins Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull is simply this: they are going to conduct a campaign of ripping up the social safety net and increasing the tax burden on low- and middle-income earners, because that is what Liberal Party people do. It is in their DNA. They want to hit working families hard and they will hit them first. Having no net savings after 2½ years, what are they going to do? As we have heard, in the past they seemed to think that we should be concerned about deficits. If you were concerned about deficits, why would you save $80 billion and then spend $80 billion? They are severely embarrassed about the state of the budget.
We do the responsible thing on this side of the House. We say to ourselves that we should responsibly look at the tax concessions, just as the government should have done 2½ years ago and are being forced to do right now. But, if they are going to have to do that, what are they going to do to save some money? 'We're going to go back and target working families.' They are going to continue to do what they have done for the last 2½ years, which is to smash the payments going to families.
In the last budget, nine out of 10 of the lowest income families lost, and nine out of 10 of the wealthiest families gained. Let us just go through what they did to people on family payments. People on $65,000 a year, with two children, lost up to $115 a week. People on $120,000, with two children, lost up to $60 a week. The government are severely embarrassed that we have got the guts to try and clean up the tax system, to put some fairness in it, to drive economic growth. We understand that a fair tax system is the basis of a strongly growing economy. It rewards people who work hard and it rewards people who invest.
But guess what—if you put out tax concessions that discourage the market, that actually inflate the market, you give all of the benefit, through those concessions, to the highest income earners. What you are about to do, because of your failure in the budget, because of the fact that you have spent all of your savings, is to target us for making responsible savings, by running a scare campaign.
The Australian people are absolutely onto you, because the Australian people value the safety net. The Australian people value a fair tax system and they know that every Liberal in this parliament will sit here and vote for proposals which will take money away from working families. You will sit in this parliament and take money away from pensioners whilst you are protecting the tax concessions of some of the wealthiest Australians.
The unfairness of what is happening with negative gearing is something that does not really resonate with everyone on that side of the House, because you are into trickle-down economics. Ten per cent of the top income earners get 50 per cent of the tax concessions. That is what you are doing. You are defending the wealthy against the many.