Cost of Living Tax Cuts

Speech on Labor's cost of living tax cuts.

I'm pleased to rise to join my colleagues in supporting Labor's cost-of-living tax cuts. The Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Tax Cuts) Bill 2024 and the Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living—Medicare Levy) Bill 2024 offer cost-of-living relief and tax reform. As the Prime Minister has said, Labor has been very concerned about the cost-of-living impact on families, individuals and Australians around the country. Those on this side of the House have been critically concerned with this, none more so than myself, representing, as I do, a community in the outer west of Melbourne where most people have a mortgage. Watching the interest rate rises and having an understanding of the impact of those and what this means for many in my community, I have been incredibly concerned.

I've been very proud to be part of the Albanese Labor government. All the members of our cabinet, all the members of the executive and all the members of the backbench are critically concerned about these things and have been working together collaboratively across 20 months of government to find ways to put supports in place for people. It began in that December after we were first elected, when caucus members saw what was going to happen and came back to Canberra to fix it by bringing in legislation to put downward pressure on energy prices. From that point, the Australian public was in good hands, because we had a cabinet whose members were going to work together to find ways to support Australians.

We saw it again in health. We saw it with cheaper medicine, and I know what that means on the ground for my community. I know what that means in my house. It means that, when you are on a long-term medications and you go to the chemist, you're getting longer scripts, there are more scripts on the PBS and all medicines are cheaper than they were. This is critical, and it has made a real difference on the ground. Of course, there is the tripling of the bulk-billing incentives, which is turning around the bulk-billing rates across the country, and those bulk-billing rates are reversing in the electorate of Lalor.

We introduced an increase to the rental subsidy. We did the childcare support package. This government has been focused on reducing the pressure on families across the country. Today, the legislation before us is the introduction of Labor's tax cuts cost-of-living relief. This is a critical piece of legislation, because it will deliver a tax cut to every Australian taxpayer, first and foremost. It's hard to use that language of a tax cut, for me, because it isn't the tax cut; it's actually the increase in your pay packet because less tax has been taken. It will give families and everyone in my electorate more disposable income at a time when they really need it. Importantly, it doesn't have an inflationary impact. This, of course, is critical, because we're still fighting inflation.

In Lalor, there are 95,000 taxpayers who will be getting a tax cut from 1 July under this package that is being introduced, as the Prime Minister said, because it is the right decision made at the right time in response to cost-of-living pressures. Eighty-eight per cent of the taxpayers in Lalor will be better off under Labor's stage 3 tax system, so 84,000 taxpayers will be better off. We've heard speaker after speaker go through what that means. We heard the member for O'Connor talking about teachers, police officers and rental properties. I tell you what I can tell teachers and police officers in my electorate: from 1 July, under this government, you will have more in your pockets because of these tax cuts than you would have had under the Liberal plan. It's not just teachers, and it's not just police officers. It's the nurses, aged-care workers, childcare workers, those who work in transport and logistics, forklift drivers, truck drivers, bus drivers, people working in retail, people working in building and construction and people working in the public sector. This will have a positive impact on the gamut of people across my electorate.

As I said here in another opportunity last week, I know that, on 1 July, I can look the people of my community in the eye. Like thousands of other Australians who, under the Morrison tax cuts, would have received a smaller tax cut, I am pleased that this decision means that families, young people and women in my community will get more money in their pockets rather than in mine. I can't be blunter than that. I know that that's a sentiment shared across the country, because that's what we're hearing. The feedback coming back to me from families and people I know outside my electorate—people who earn $200,000 plus—is that they are happy that this is happening. There's no denying that that is real.

To those opposite, I say it would be nice, as the Treasurer said today, if you were enthusiastically supporting this legislation. That's probably too much to hope for. I'm pleased that the member for O'Connor, at least, has expressed quite clearly that he's pleased. The speech wasn't overwhelmingly positive, but he's pleased to support this, because he knows the difference it will make to people in his electorate who earn $40,000 a year. It means something where they were going to get nothing. Those opposite may not be enthusiastic, but I welcome them reluctantly supporting the tax cuts and reluctantly supporting this.

There's been a lot of talk in here this evening about what we've spoken about in this place across 20 months. I tell you what we've talked a lot about: the cost of living. On this side, we've talked a lot about the things that we've been doing to address cost of living and assist people in that while, as a government and as a country, we fight inflation. That's what we've heard a lot about. Do you know what else we've heard a lot about? We've had a lot of questions from the other side about energy bills across 20 months. Unfortunately, in December, they all came in and voted against things that were designed to put downward pressure on energy bills, so any question they ask on energy bills completely loses credibility and validity, as far as I'm concerned. But I note that, in the last two weeks since the Prime Minister stood up at the National Press Club and explained his and our decision and our processes to get to this place, there's been a complete lack of interest from that side of the chamber on the impacts of the cost of living on residents around this country. It is glaring that it is suddenly not of interest to those opposite.

One of the things I'm concerned about with that is that people might think that the cost-of-living pressures have gone away, and of course they haven't. And as the Prime Minister has also said, this legislation brings some relief. It brings some reform around bracket creep, some reform around taxation to support people, but it's not the job finished. The inflationary pressures are still there—moderating, but still there. People are still doing it tough.

I'm really proud to be a member of the Albanese Labor government. I'm really proud to work with the members of the government on this side who are so concerned about these pressures. I'm really proud to support a cabinet who are prepared to work together to find ways to support Australians in communities like mine, in communities across this country. I'm really proud that, as a government, we've demonstrated that we can chew gum and walk at the same time. We can deal with an inflationary crisis and care for people and, more importantly, meet our commitment to not leave people behind.

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