Canberra Report: We wanted time to debate the fairness

The stoush in the Parliament last week was not a fight about whether people deserve an income tax cut.

Rather, it was about when they will get one and for the next there years, whether they were big enough for those who need them most.

Too many Australian workers will not receive any meaningful benefit from the tax package that was legislated until 2022, three years away.

Labor wanted the government to bring these 2022 cuts forward so that people receive the tax break earlier.

We argued this not just because people need the tax cut but also because a very weak economy is desperately in need of the additional consumer spending the tax break would have provided.

The other argument was about the tax cuts the government's package will deliver in five years' time.

Labor wanted more time to have a debate about their fairness - because they are weighted in favour of high income earners - and their affordability if the economy continues to deteriorate.

When the economy goes bad Government revenues fall and expenses rise. Labor's fear is that if the economy continues to decline there will be less money for health, education, aged care, child care and infrastructure including roads.

Given five years is such a long way off it made sense to decouple the stage 3 cuts (5 years away), to bring forward and pass stage 2 (3 years away) and pass stage 1 which will provide immediate tax relief.

But, the government refused to do so. As a result, Labor allowed the whole package to pass because to do otherwise would have denied workers the stage 1 tax cuts which will range from $255 a year for someone earning $37,000 or less annually and a $1,085 tax cut for someone on between $48,000 and $90,000.

So there was no debate about whether the parliament should pass tax cuts. It was all about making them meaningful and worthwhile.

***

I thank members of the Wanaruah NAIDOC Committee for allowing me to participate in their Flag Rising ceremony in Muswellbrook's Simpson Park on Monday.

The event was held to mark the beginning of NAIDOC week, a time when we celebrate the culture of our Indigenous Australians, reflect on past wrongs and commit ourselves to future equality of opportunity and empowerment.

I pay my respects to all Indigenous people and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

 


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