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Speech on Stage 3 tax cuts: Treasury Laws Amendment (2022 Measures No. 2) Bill

In the second reading debate for the Treasury Laws Amendment (2022 Measures No. 2), I moved an amendment calling on the Labor government to stop adopting taxation measures that will increase inequality and instead ease cost of living pressures by getting dental into Medicare, making childcare free, wiping student debt and freezing rents, then spoke about the need to scrap the Stage 3 tax cuts.

We're in the middle of one of the worst cost-of-living and housing crises in a generation, and the government continues to just tinker around the edges with bills like this. Right now, this House should be considering a bill to repeal the stage 3 tax cuts and invest the revenue in putting dental into Medicare, free child care and affordable housing, but, instead, Labor are enshrining a Liberal election promise in law.

The Prime Minister has talked about tough choices that this government will have to make when passing the upcoming federal budget. But why is it, in Australian politics, that the tough choices are always made by everyday people? When it comes to the federal budget, one of the things you can be sure of, Mr Deputy Speaker, is that the politicians, billionaires and big corporations who run this country won't be the ones making those tough choices. Nothing illustrates that better than Labor's stage 3 tax cuts. Two hundred and forty-four billion dollars—that's how much Labor's stage 3 tax cuts are going to cost this country.

When it comes to tough choices, let's talk about exactly who will be making them. It certainly won't be the Prime Minister, who earns $549,250 a year—more than half a million dollars, or 13-times the minimum wage. The Prime Minister will receive an extra $9,000 a year from his government's own tax cuts. It won't be the Treasurer, who earns a measly $396,000—only nine times the minimum wage! The Treasurer, too, will receive an extra $9,000 a year from his party's own tax cuts. It certainly won't be a lowly backbencher or crossbencher like me, who earns an outrageous $217,000 a year. In fact, the last thing anyone in this place needs is an extra $9,000 a year. What we all really need is a pay cut. It absolutely won't be Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, making any tough choices, as he received $1.98 million last year while Qantas laid off 8½ thousand workers. The government has decided that he too needs an extra $9,000 a year. Indeed, the only tough choice any of them have to make is how to spend that extra $9,000 a year. Who knows? Maybe it'll be on an extra investment property.

I'll tell you what real tough choices look like. A tough choice is a teacher having to use their own money to feed kids in their school who would otherwise go without. A tough choice is a pensioner having to choose between paying the rent or buying groceries. A tough choice is a single mum working out where to park the car for the night after she and her kids were evicted from their home because they couldn't afford to pay the rent. A tough choice is working out how long you can ignore that toothache, because you can't afford to go to the dentist. A tough choice is a family having to cancel their first holiday in years, because the mortgage repayments just went up by $200 a month and they don't know how they're going to make ends meet. A tough choice is a childcare worker wondering how much longer they can survive on low wages and long hours. A tough choice is a young man struggling to find the hundreds of dollars a week it costs to pay for the mental health support that he so desperately needs. These are the tough choices that Australians make every day, and they are tough choices imposed on them by the decisions of federal and state governments.

So, when the Prime Minister talks about tough choices, let's remember that by repealing the stage 3 tax cuts we could invest $244 billion to ensure everybody in this country has what they need to live a good life. We could fund a universal free breakfast and lunch program in every school so that that teacher doesn't have to worry about which of their kids are eating today. We could raise the pension above the poverty line so that that pensioner can retire in comfort and doesn't have to decide whether they pay the rent or pay for groceries. We could build enough public housing so that that single mum can move straight into a well-designed, rent-subsidised public home. We could bring dental into Medicare so that no-one has to put off going to the dentist because they can't afford the thousand dollars it's going to cost. We could improve pay and conditions so that childcare workers are able to stay in a profession that they love, knowing that their work is valued and that they can afford to buy a house of their own and put down roots. And, while we're at it, we could make child care free so no parent has to make the tough choice to give up opportunities in their lives because they can't afford child care. We could bring mental health into Medicare so that that young man would be able to afford to get the support he needs straightaway, without having to stress about how he's going to pay the $200 a week it costs to get therapy.

But, instead of choosing to help out that teacher, that pensioner or that single mum, Labor are choosing, with their stage 3 tax cuts, to double-down on a political and economic system that always makes the lives of everyday people tougher while handing out billions of dollars to the super-rich billionaires in big corporations.

The amendment I've moved today is about this place signalling to the government that the last thing we need is more of the same—the last thing we need is more Liberal Party election promises; the last thing we need is the status quo. It's time this government scrapped the stage 3 tax cuts and, instead, spent $244 billion funding the services everyday Australians need to live a good life. You could vote on behalf of everyone in your electorate struggling to pay for housing, groceries, health care and child care, rather than on behalf of the top one per cent. You could vote to ensure that none of us sitting here on at least $217,000 a year get an extra $9,000 a year while there are people sleeping in cars.

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