Bills – Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Tax Cuts) Bill, 2024 – Monday 26 February, 2024

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (19:48): Obviously, I rise here today to speak on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Tax Cuts) Bill 2024. How’s 15 bucks a week going to affect my cost of living? How’s that going to help? I’ll tell you what: it’s not. It’s a drop in the ocean. That’s what it is. What does 15 bucks get you, for those playing at home? A coffee and a sandwich? That’s about it. A coffee and a sandwich—you’re done.

Senator Scarr: A caesar salad.

Senator BABET: A caesar salad! Thank you, Senator Scarr.

Now, the federal government promised—they promised over 100 times, I think it was—that they would implement the stage 3 tax cuts exactly as they had been agreed. And wouldn’t it be good if they’d implemented that stage 3 tax cut? You know what? I’ll go one step further. How about we cut even more taxes? We are overtaxed. We are overgoverned. That’s what I think. I think tax is theft, at the end of the day. Tax is theft.

Cut it back as much as possible. Reduce the size of the federal government. The federal government is far too big. The bureaucracy is far too big. The red tape, the green tape, the black tape—it is too much.

Prime Minister Albanese is famous for a quote. He said, ‘My word is my bond.’ Is it really, Mr Albanese? Is it really, Prime Minister? He then went on and did the exact opposite of what he had promised. I’m shocked—the opposite! He attempted to justify his breach of faith. with the Australian public by insisting that he was focused on helping middle Australians with cost-of-living relief. That’s what happened there. It’s clear that Prime Minister Albanese sees himself as some kind of modern-day Robin Hood, but it seems to me like it’s a false dichotomy. You can keep your promise to voters, or you can help Middle Australia. Why must you choose between two worthy things? Why not do both? Mr Prime Minister, just do both.

I’m going to suggest a third way—a way that keeps integrity intact, if you can call it that, and a way that helps more Australians with the cost of living. I have circulated, or will circulate shortly, a Committee of the Whole amendment to this bill, which will likely be moved later this week. If supported—and that’s a big ‘if’—my amendment will go a long way to honouring the government’s promise to the Australian people. On a side note, I’d like to see all politicians stop breaking promises that they make to the Australian people. The Australian people dislike politicians, in my opinion, and there’s a good reason why. It’s because promises are always broken, and that’s not right. It needs to stop. Stick to your promises.

The abolition of the 37 per cent tax bracket was at the very heart of the original stage 3 reforms. It had bipartisan support. It became law. It was promised repeatedly by both major parties at the recent federal election. Obviously, I’m not going to stand in the way of the government’s revised tax cuts bill. I won’t stand in the way of any tax cuts, because, like I said before, I hate all taxes. It’s theft. Tax cuts are a good thing. But what I will do is stand firm and ask the government to honour its word.

My amendment would allow the government’s proposal to pass in full without a fuss from me, but it would also ensure that the government honours its promise. My proposal is that we abolish the 37 per cent tax bracket in two years time, which is pragmatic and fair, and I think it’s a reasonable compromise. It would allow sufficient time for budgets to adjust, but it would give great hope to the Australian people. How long have we been waiting for these tax cuts now? Five years or so? What’s another two more years, right? For five years or so we’ve been waiting.

If the government were to support my amendment, everyone would win, and maybe once again Prime Minister Albanese’s word would be his bond. But let’s see if the Prime Minister supports it. I doubt he will. Do you know why? Because socialism is an expensive business. That’s why. You need ever-increasing amounts of other people’s money. The government could boast that they went above and beyond to address the cost of living, and all of us could be saved from the growing cynicism of a public which, frankly, is sick of broken promises.

If the Liberals were to support my amendment, they would be acting like Liberals who truly believe in minimising burdensome taxes. They could once again work towards a ‘lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives and maximises individual and private sector initiative’. If you believe their website—and I just quoted that from their website—this is what they believe in.

To my crossbench colleagues: I ask that you stand with me to support my amendments, which will ensure that the government honours its repeated promise to the Australian people.

For too long, unfortunately, our nation has been hamstrung by high-taxing, high-regulating and overbearing government from both sides—from both the Left and the Right, unfortunately. We must allow people to keep more of their money; we just have to do it. We must force our government, whichever government that is, the government of the day, to live within its means. To quote the great Ronald Reagan: ‘The problem is not that people are taxed too little; the problem is that the government spends too much.’ Like I said before, taxation is theft. Reduce the size of the federal government. Reduce the size of the bureaucracy. Cut red and green tape. Grab the legislative books, cut them in half and put them in the bin; we don’t need them. What we need is to unleash the free market. That’s what we need—more free markets, less regulation and less government.