Mr Speaker, this bill is part of a budget package that reminded me of a scene from the movie “Mad Max Fury Road”.
There is this scene in the movie where, at the end, the tyrant, who has taken control of all the water and kept it away from the people – finally turns on the taps for the people. He turns on the giant taps, and the people are clambering to get their bit of water and they’re cheering and yelling because they have been denied water for so long. So he turns the tap on, then he turns it off again a few seconds later. That’s it for the people.
Mr Speaker this bill, turns that tap on that has been denied families and communities for years, who desperately needed the help and it’s a small trickling drop. For our lowest income families, this bill is a trickle, and in the words of the Child Poverty Action Group – what we need instead is a tide to actually make meaningful change.
Increasing the lowest tax thresholds and increasing the child payment rates under the Family Tax Credits will get more money to people on lower incomes and we support that. Yes. This bill increases Working for Families payments because costs are high especially at the moment with housing.
It is unfortunate that the government has hooked the tax cuts for the lowest incomes to tax cuts for higher incomes.
The Greens do not support tax cuts for higher incomes. People themselves on higher incomes do not support tax cuts for higer incomes. They have been clear that they would prefer to have well-funded public services and provisions and a country where people have enough to live well.
So like everyone the Greens are not fooled by this government’s bill which is pretending to fix up some of the big mess that the government designed. This government wants to pretend it is finally making the changes that our country desperately needs, after having run social services into the ground. Like social housing, like education support staff, like mental health and addiction support services - into the ground. When in actual fact this government once again has made decisions for the past, not for the future.
Like the fact that the largest share of the tax cuts under this bill will go to families on more than $127,000 a year (around $33 a week for them) while those on lowest incomes, less than $24,000 a year will only get maybe $5 if they’re lucky. Those tax cuts for the higher incomes will come at the cost of even more public services and the Greens know that this is the opposite of what we need.
$5 extra is pittance for people on lower income but at the moment sadly that $5 makes a difference, makes a meaningful difference does $5 and we should not be proud of that. Some families have become so used to scraping a meal together on so little, that five extra dollars is actually a thing. It’s a deal. And so the Greens won’t stand in the way of that.
But this bill does not do what is really needed to improve the lives of people on the lowest incomes and help us all benefit from stronger communities everywhere. The Greens will keep fighting for those more meaningful changes while not standing in the way of the potential of what this bill has to offer to our lowest income families. We will keep working for the real changes.
We understand the true value of communities of people who have enough to live and survive and have a meaningful life because that is the leadership that we need.