Cuts to the family tax benefits

I rise today to share my concerns. It is now 10 weeks until Prime Minister Turnbull and his Treasurer, the member for Cook, hand down their first budget. They have 10 weeks to tell us that the cruel cuts to family tax benefit recipients will be off the table in the next budget. The family tax package hurts the electorate of Lalor more than any electorate in this country. Twenty one thousand families—that is, over a third of the families living in my community—are recipients of the family tax benefit. A significant number—a third of the families—are set to lose up to $4,700 a year from their income. These are savage cuts to families. It will affect a third of the families. Imagine the impact on our local economy as those families have their income reduced.

I have said many times in this chamber that when it comes to changes such as these, communities in the electorate of Lalor are hit the hardest. Unlike electorates like Wentworth and Warringah and Cook, the people in Lalor rely on family tax benefits to make ends meet across the year. There are 10 weeks until we get a new budget to see if there is any substantive change in the attitude of this Prime Minister compared to the former Prime Minister, but we do not hold out much hope in Lalor.

In fact, we are quite despondent about this, and this of course was not helped last night when John Howard told us that there is broad continuity between the Abbott and the Turnbull governments. In fact, he put it best when he said that there are obviously presentation differences. This is a critical concern for my electorate, a critical concern for the families who live in the electorate of Lalor, because they are worried, like the rest of us are, that there are only presentation differences. This Prime Minister's actions speak louder than his words. He is conducting a review of the Safe Schools program, an opt-in program that schools choose to be involved in. He has called for a review of that program, but what he should be reviewing is the $80 billion cuts to schools and health. That is the issue that should be reviewed by this Prime Minister. But we have almost given up hope that there will be a sign of any substantive change. We have seen that with the GST being looked at and the idea to introduce a 50 per cent increase on a regressive tax. That is now being backed away from, but we have silence on negative gearing, we have silence on retrospectivity. That is happening while Labor has 50 policies in the field—50 policies.

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