Doorstop - Parliament House 20/6/18

20 June 2018


SUBJECT/S: Pauline Hanson and income tax cuts; Telstra job losses; housing affordability; Scott Morrison 
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: I think the battlers of Queensland and the battlers of Australia will be absolutely horrified to hear that Pauline Hanson is contemplating supporting Malcolm Turnbull's tax cuts, which give 60 per cent of the benefit to the wealthiest 20 per cent of Australians. If Pauline Hanson votes with Malcolm Turnbull again, it will torpedo for all time this myth that Pauline Hanson is a friend of the battler. If Pauline Hanson votes with Malcolm Turnbull to give bigger tax cuts to the wealthiest Australians, it will expose as a fiction and a fraud this ridiculous notion that One Nation is in this Parliament to look after the interests of people who work and struggle in this country.
Pauline Hanson should stop wandering around the suburbs and towns of this country pretending to be something she's not. Pauline Hanson should stop pretending that she is a friend of the battler when she's prepared to vote with Malcolm Turnbull to give the biggest tax cuts to those who need tax cuts the least. Now, what Pauline Hanson would be voting for is a tax cut which would benefit Malcolm Turnbull's electorate more than any other electorate in Australia. The amount of people in Malcolm Turnbull's electorate eligible for a $7,000 tax cut is number one in Australia. The electorate with the most to gain from Pauline Hanson supporting Malcolm Turnbull is Malcolm Turnbull's own electorate. The electorate of Longman is ranked 141 out of 150. So Pauline Hanson would be voting for the bankers of Point Piper over the interests of the battlers of Longman.
Labor has put forward an alternative and if Pauline Hanson is serious about representing the interests of the Australian battler, Pauline Hanson would get behind Labor's bigger, better, fairer tax cuts. The contrast is really clear. Pauline Hanson is contemplating voting for a tax cut where 60 per cent of the benefit goes to the wealthiest 27 per cent of people and where somebody on $40,000 pays the same tax rate as somebody on $200,000. What Labor is proposing is to ensure that people earning up to $125,000 a year get a bigger, better, fairer tax cut. If Malcolm Turnbull's unfair tax cuts get through the Senate with Pauline Hanson's support, we will be making that an issue in Longman, in Braddon, right around the country, in the by-elections and in the general election as well. 
Murray is going to say a few words about that and then I might say something about Telstra workers, then over to you.
MURRAY WATT, SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND: Thanks, Jim. Just to reinforce a couple of things that Jim's just gone through, I think the actions that Pauline Hanson takes in the Senate this week are going to be absolutely crucial for the Longman by-election. As Jim has said, Longman is in the bottom 10 electorates for the country in terms of the benefit they will get from this tax cut. They are in the 10 worst off electorates in the entire country for any benefit from this tax cut. Pauline Hanson, of course, has a record of consistently voting with the government on pretty much anything that they put up. Over the whole time she's been in this parliament, she's voted with Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals 90 per cent of the time. This calendar year, she has actually voted with Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals 100 per cent of the time. Every time there's been a vote on a bill, Pauline Hanson has been Malcolm Turnbull's most reliable ally. 
Well, this is a golden opportunity for Pauline Hanson to show people in Longman that she is actually prepared to show some independence; that she actually will stand up for their interests and will say no to the incredibly unfair tax cuts that Malcolm Turnbull is putting forward. There are sound economic reasons for Pauline Hanson to vote with Labor and to block Malcolm Turnbull's tax cuts, but there are even better political reasons for her to do so when we're heading into a by-election in an electorate which has so little to gain from these tax cuts. I'll be very interested to see in the by-election how Pauline Hanson will justify to people in Longman why she has voted with Malcolm Turnbull to deliver a massive tax cuts to his own constituents in Sydney and to fund it by continuing to cut schools, hospitals, pensions and other things in the electorate of Longman. 
Also over this by-election, One Nation will face a very important choice about how they preference. If One Nation make a decision to preference the LNP in Queensland, as they so often have done in the past, that is further evidence that they are really just an arm of the LNP. There is no independence being shown here. Today is the day that Pauline Hanson can really demonstrate her independence from Malcolm Turnbull and the LNP.
CHALMERS: Thank you, Murray. Just briefly on the news out of Telstra this morning. This is devastating news for thousands of Australian workers. The priority now for Telstra must be to ensure that those workers get the adequate support they need and deserve after their service to the company and we want to make sure that that support is provided in consultation with workers and their representative - workers and their unions - to make sure that every possible effort can be made to soften the blow of what is really a devastating announcement for thousands of Australians working at that company. 
It was very, very disappointing to hear this morning when Paul Fletcher was asked about 8,000 job losses, he said, "these things happen." It's hard to imagine a more callous response to 8,000 job losses than a minister in the Turnbull Government shrugging his shoulders and saying, "well, these things happen." And it's really of a piece with Malcolm Turnbull saying yesterday to a 60-year-old aged care worker, "if you don't like the meagre tax cut that I'm prepared to sling your way, go and get a better job." These characters just don't get it, whether it's Paul Fletcher shrugging his shoulder at Telstra job losses or Malcolm Turnbull lecturing 60-year-old aged care workers if they don't like his tax cut go and get a better job, you can just see how spectacularly out of touch the Turnbull Government is. Over to you.
JOURNALIST: Isn't there a risk that people see Pauline Hanson as a white knight coming in? Low income families struggling to make ends meet? Because at the moment, nothing's going to happen. She could be seen as a saviour.
CHALMERS: If Pauline Hanson votes for Malcolm Turnbull's tax cuts she will be exposed as a fraud. She wanders around this country pretending that she will look after the interests of the Australian battler and then she comes to Canberra and votes directly against their interest. Pauline Hanson, if she votes for Malcolm Turnbull's tax cuts, will be voting to give the biggest benefits to the bankers of Point Piper, and among the least benefits to the battlers of Caboolture. That says it all about Pauline Hanson. If she puts her hand up again for Malcolm Turnbull and sides with Malcolm Turnbull and the millionaires yet again, as she has repeatedly, the battlers of Australia are entitled to feel very let down. She won't be rewarded for it. She'll be marked down for it because she's spent all of this time pretending to be something she's not.
JOURNALIST: The ANZ yesterday warned that house prices in Sydney and Melbourne have fallen by a further 10 per cent. Is that a concern, or is that a comfortable correction that's needed?
CHALMERS: We've said for some time we're concerned about the inability of a lot of, especially young, people to get a toehold in the housing market. You see a lot of those kind of forecasts. They often vary quite wildly. It's important not to overreact to one forecast or another or one opinion or another. We want to make sure that housing is affordable, particularly in those big markets which have seen such extraordinary price growth over the last little while, the big markets of Sydney and Melbourne. That's why we've got a housing affordability policy, including negative gearing and other important elements. But we don't overreact to one forecast or another.
JOURNALIST: Scott Morrison is out again bagging your policy over housing. I don't think you'd be surprised. He's asking do you need to do that sort of thing when the market's already correcting?
CHALMERS: I don't think there's ever been a Treasurer of Australia who has spent a greater proportion of his time focused on his political opponents. This is a guy who can't even release the costings of his company tax policies over 10 years, but gets the Treasury spending all of their time costing Labor's policies, and giving them dodgy parameters to work from. Every time that Scott Morrison opens his mouth, he diminishes himself. His commentary on our housing policy, his commentary on all of Labor's policies, his obsession with Labor when he should be getting on with the job of managing the economy, is really demeaning to him and it explains a lot why Scott Morrison is such a diminished figure. Imagine if he spent as much time worrying about the fact that net debt has doubled on his watch or gross debt is more than half-a-trillion dollars, or debt is being accumulated at a faster clip per month under this Government than he former Labor Government? If only he spent as much time worrying about those sorts of things rather than worrying about Labor, the country would be better off. Thank you.