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Speech on repealing stage 3 tax cuts

On September 27, I spoke to a motion moved by Adam Bandt to suspend standing orders to allow Parliament to consider our Bill to repeal the Stage 3 tax cuts. Unfortunately Labor voted with the Liberals to block our motion.

Mr CHANDLER-MATHER: I second the motion to suspend sessional and standing orders. One of the things I heard a lot when I was door-knocking during the federal election campaign—and probably the most common thing—was that people are completely fed up with politics. Often, they hate it. And one of the primary reasons is that they feel it is completely disconnected from their everyday lives. The question of urgency today I think sums up a lot of the reasons that people hate politics right now. For those pensioners right now having to choose between paying the rent or feeding themselves that night; for those people who have been evicted from their homes into their cars—families, single parents—because there isn't enough public housing to go around; for those people skipping seeing the dentist; for those people having to take time out from their jobs because they can't afford childcare—too often, time and again, this place makes choices about spending priorities that either destroy those people's lives or make their lives tougher, while at the same time doing frankly grotesque things like giving $9,000 a year extra to literally every person in this place!

I cannot see a more urgent question to discuss right now than repealing the stage 3 tax cuts, freeing up $244 billion and using that money—right now—to plan for those people's futures. How often do we go to an election campaign and hear people in this place saying, 'We really care about the cost-of-living crisis.' But, when it comes to the crunch, when it comes to getting to make a decision about repealing the stage 3 cuts, they're not admitting that it's urgent right now that we contemplate how to spend $244 billion, and that maybe it's time to start spending that on getting dental into Medicare, or universal free child care, or scrapping student debt, or building enough public housing to solve the housing crisis. Right now, the majority of this place thinks that we're better off spending that $244 billion on dishing out $9,000 a year in tax cuts to anyone earning over $200,000 a year, including Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart and every federal politician in this place. I do not know how you can look anyone in the eye and say you care about the cost-of-living crisis and know that your policy position right now is to give yourself an extra $9,000 a year. That is so absurd.

I think it's remarkable that an entire cottage industry has developed around trying to study the reasons why people don't like politics: 'there's a loss of trust', or, 'people just aren't paying enough attention to the good work that we're doing in this place'. We always miss the forest for the trees, right? It couldn't possibly be that people know a lot about their own lives, and they're fully aware of what goes on in this place! And right now what is going on in this place is that we have both major parties deciding we're better off spending $244 billion over 10 years handing out $9,000 a year to anyone earning over $200,000 a year. It couldn't possibly be that that leads people to deciding that they don't really like politics that much—

Ms Wells interjecting

Mr CHANDLER-MATHER: And I'll take that interjection: potentially, when you door-knock at those people's houses, you should lead with: 'Hello, my solution to the housing crisis is handing out $9,000 a year to Clive Palmer.' It is interesting to me, by the way, how tetchy Labor get when we talk about the stage 3 tax cuts—because down in their hearts they know that the decision they're making is fewer public homes, more people paying for the dentist, and more people having to choose between paying the rent and feeding their families that night. Time and again, we hear Labor getting upset about the fact that they're being called out for a terrible policy position rather than contemplating the human impact that their policy position has on people's lives. If you walk through this chamber, Deputy Speaker, every person you walk past is going to get $9,000. Labor can think more about that, and about their policy decisions right now and the choices they're making in this place. They're saying that it is not urgent to think about how we free up the cash to make sure that we build enough public housing or to make sure that anyone can see the dentist if they need to. Labor can think about those teachers and nurses who are right now making up for the chronic underfunding of our public health and education: maybe they shouldn't have to make that sacrifice. Maybe we should make that sacrifice here and not pocket that extra $9,000 a year that the stage 3 tax cuts are going to give every federal politician.

I think the message to both major parties is to get less angry about the things we're saying here and more angry about the fact that people in your electorate are suffering—and the fact that your parties' position right now is handing out $244 billion to people like Clive Palmer, rather than contemplating how we get that money and put it towards actually improving the lives of the vast majority of people in Australia. That is why people are fed up with politics. That is why repealing the stage 3 tax cuts is so critically urgent. At the very least, we should be suspending standing orders so that everyone in this place can get up and justify why they think they need an extra $9,000 but we don't need dental in Medicare. It is a sick joke.

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