Time to expose tax deals
Last week saw two events in Parliament House that show taxation wheeling and dealing at its worst.
The first was Pauline Hanson’s sudden about-turn on supporting the government’s business tax cuts, which means One Nation ditched a confidential written deal, and much of its credibility, but also and thankfully the likely end of the federal government’s plan for corporate tax cuts
The second was last Thursday when “Labor voted for Turnbull’s tax cuts”, as Adam Bandt Greens MP said. This week I’d like to focus on this federal budget item, but firstly let’s look at Ms Hanson’s political antics.
The senator and her two One Nation colleagues in the upper house had promised to vote for the corporate tax relief, bringing the government just two votes away from having it passed.
But last Monday, Senator Hanson said the government had not funded in the Budget the extra apprenticeships she wanted in exchange for One Nation votes.
So this time Senator Hanson issued a new set of wide-ranging, unrelated demands to re-win her approval, including an overhaul of the resources rent tax scheme and new support for coal-fired power stations!
At the time of writing it is not known if the government will accept Senator Hanson’s demands, though given they involve such retrograde steps it is to be hoped not.
The government’s budget tax cuts, which also favour the wealthy despite the propaganda of Messrs Turnbull and Morrison, thankfully are also not certain of passing both houses.
For example, last weeks the Australian Greens ruled out supporting both the Coalition and Labor’s personal tax cuts, calling for greater public investment in essential services instead.
“These income tax cut are nothing more than a bribe to try get their massive company tax cuts over the line. People on minimum wage won’t even see $4 a week, with the wealthiest Australians benefiting the most” said Greens Treasury spokesperson Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.
His position makes perfect sense when looked at from a social justice perspective. Both parties’ plans will worsen inequality, and see us lose vital revenue for the essential services people rely on. And neither of the old parties have a plan to address the tax avoidance system that’s allowing multinational companies to avoid paying a fair share of tax in Australia.
The budget tax cut package was heavily weighted to the big end of town. Students and mothers returning to work part-time will get nothing, yet the Coalition’s package would give thousands back to executives and bankers earning $200,000 a year.
It beats me how Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten can look Australians in the eye as they hand out tax cuts to people well above the median wage, yet say people on Newstart should remain below the poverty line?
Senator Richard Di Natale pointed out that economic inequality on the rise, so the priority should be to reinvest in public services.
Indeed, anyone with an eye for fairness can see that when an election is rolling around both old parties are giving away cheques like a breakfast TV show trying to increase their ratings.
It is nothing more than a reckless tax auction, a distraction from the millions of dollars stripped from our schools, hospitals and social safety net over the past decade.
While Turnbull is busy squabbling with Labor over how much they want to rip out of Australia’s institutions everyone should be aware that what is at risk is Medicare, our public schools and hospitals, and the environment.