February 07, 2024

It is indeed a great pleasure to be speaking on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Tax Cuts) Bill 2024. It is also a pleasure to follow the member for Sturt, whose greatest contribution to this place so far has been sleeping through a vote a year ago. His speech just then demonstrated that he makes more sense when he keeps his mouth closed, because his argument was fundamentally contradictory. If this is such a bad policy, why is he going to vote for it? That's the ultimate question he and every member of the opposition have to answer. They can come in here and bleat and carp, but, ultimately, if they think this is a bad policy and the wrong move, they should vote against it. Go to the election and pledge to roll it back. Go to the election and pledge to increase taxes on low- and middle-income earners in this country, just like your deputy leader did before she even saw the policy.

The truth is that what we're talking about now is providing cost-of-living relief to every single Australian taxpayer. Every single Australian taxpayer gets a tax cut. Let me repeat that: every single Australian taxpayer gets a tax cut. We have been very clear with the Australian people that we are laserlike in our focus on providing cost-of-living relief to those who need it most—to low- and middle-income families in this country—and that's why I'm proud to speak in favour of this bill.

The truth is: every taxpayer in Shortland—that's 67,000 people—will receive a tax cut from 1 July under Labor's better tax cuts, announced by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. The average tax cut will be $1,551. Around 57,000 taxpayers in my electorate, or 85 per cent, will receive a bigger tax cut than they would have under the plan that the member for Cook, Scott Morrison, legislated five years ago. Across the Hunter and the Central Coast, 428,000 taxpayers will now receive a tax cut and 367,000 taxpayers will receive a bigger tax cut than they would have under the Morrison plan. Those opposite need to work out whether they're for a bigger tax cut for 84 per cent of Australians or against it. Ultimately, that's their decision. They can't carp and whine, saying it's a bad policy, but then come in here and vote for it.

We're delivering more help for working families and more help for Australians who are unfortunately under the pump from the cost of living due to the remnants of the global pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East. We're putting cash back into people's pockets when they need it most. Our tax cuts are about ensuring more workers, in the Shortland electorate and in every electorate, can keep more of what they earn, because we know that will take pressure off people doing it tough.

I'm incredibly proud that 5.8 million women, or 90 per cent of female taxpayers, will receive a bigger tax cut than under the Morrison plan, with an average increase of $707. A nurse earning $76,000 will get a tax cut of $1,579, and I'm proud to say that there are 1,847 nurses living in Shortland. We have Belmont Hospital in our electorate, and we're very close to both Wyong and the John. We have 200 nurses in Charlestown, 66 nurses in Belmont, 53 nurses in Lake Munmorah, 49 nurses in Mount Hutton and 99 nurses in Warners Bay, all getting a tax cut. If those nurses are earning $76,000 they'll get a tax cut of $1,579.

A primary school teacher earning $93,000 will get a tax cut of $2,004, and I'm delighted to say there are 2,849 schoolteachers living in Shortland. There are 112 teachers in Cardiff, 101 teachers in Belmont, 77 teachers in Redhead, 155 teachers in Eleebana and 26 teachers in Chain Valley Bay. They get up every day and make a contribution, teaching our kids, giving them the best possible start in life. A primary school teacher on $93,000 a year will get a tax cut of $2,004, significantly more than what they would've received under the previous tax plan.

A truckie earning $77,000 will get a tax cut of $1,604, and I'm proud to say there are 872 truckies in the Shortland electorate—21 truck drivers in Windale, 41 in Cardiff, 50 in San Remo and 32 in Mount Hutton. Importantly, a police officer earning $110,000 will get a tax cut of $2,429, and there are 288 police officers in Shortland—20 in Valentine, 32 in Warners Bay and 35 in Charlestown.

A person earning $40,000—someone working part time, or someone working in the retail sector, say at a local Woolies, who the Leader of the Opposition wants to put out of work—will get a tax cut of $654, compared to nothing under the Morrison plan. A person earning $100,000 will get a tax cut of $2,179, which is $804 more than they would've received under the member for Cook's plan. A person earning $200,000 will still get a tax cut, which will be $4½ thousand.

This plan is the right plan for our times. It's so important to support this plan. This is a plan that provides cost-of-living relief to every single Australian taxpayer, particularly to low- and middle-income earners. The government is responding to the pressure Australians are under here and now. That's the right and responsible thing to do: to deliver more relief to more workers without adding to inflationary pressure or burdening the budget. Under Labor's plan, Australians will get a tax cut and more Australians will get a bigger tax cut. Nurses, teachers and truckies, as I've highlighted, are some of those most likely to benefit, with more than 95 per cent of those taxpayers getting a bigger tax cut. Our tax cuts are good for middle Australia, good for women, good for helping with cost-of-living pressures, good for labour supply and good for the economy. Labor's tax cuts come on top of the billions of dollars in cost-of-living relief that we're rolling out, including energy bill relief, cheaper medicines, a stronger Medicare, higher income support payments and the biggest boost to rent assistance in 30 years. That is the importance of this plan. Australians are under pressure right now, and it's crystal clear that every single taxpayer needs and deserves a meaningful tax cut. That didn't happen under the former government's plan but it will now. We've listened to our communities, and it has become increasingly clear that this is the best way to ease some of the pressure they are under.

Since the tax cuts were legislated by the member for Cook five years ago, there has been a once-in-100-year pandemic, wars and global conflicts, a global inflation spike and higher interest rates. Those events have put people under greater cost-of-living pressure. Good government isn't about doing what's easy for yourself; it's about doing the right thing for the right reasons. It's about putting people ahead of politics. I've had a few street stalls since we made the announcement. I had a shopping centre stall at Charlestown Square, which is the biggest shopping centre in my electorate, if not the whole region, and I've had street stalls at places like Kahibah and Whitebridge. I've had people coming up to me saying, 'Thank you for what you have announced.' I've had people outside the Whitebridge butcher telling me, 'I won't get as big a tax cut as I would have under the member for Cook's plan but I completely support your policy because it's the right thing to do for Australia.' I heard similar sentiments at Charlestown and Kahibah, and at a beautiful Australia Day breakfast at Chain Valley Bay I heard very similar sentiments.

It's up to the opposition to justify their multiple positions on this matter, because we're acting in the national interest. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition let the cat out of the bag when she said that absolutely the Liberals would unwind our tax cuts for every single taxpayer, which will mean higher taxes on middle Australia under the Liberals. Unwinding our changes and clinging to the tax cuts those opposite proposed five years ago would mean higher taxes for middle Australia, to fund even bigger tax cuts for people on the highest incomes. The Liberals' position on our tax cuts is incoherent, unintelligible and incomprehensible. They didn't even ask a question in parliament today about our plan to give every Australian a tax cut. They're trying to distract from their division on this and their contradictory position.

The choice is clear here. This is a Labor government that is taking the hard but important decisions to put Australians first, to address urgent cost-of-living relief for all Australians but principally targeted at low- and middle-income earners. That is the policy we've announced; that's the legislation we're debating today; that's the legislation we're so proud of. The opposition have to make up their mind. If they think it's bad policy, they should vote against it. If their speakers come in and criticise us for 15 minutes, that's fine, but they should vote against the legislation—vote against it and say they're in favour of putting up taxes on low- and middle-income Australians in this country. That's their choice.

I commend this bill to the House. I'm proud of it. I'm proud that it will give every single taxpayer in Shortland a tax cut. I'm proud that it will give 57,000 of the 67,000 taxpayers in Shortland an even bigger tax cut than they would have had under the original plan: a tax cut, on average, of $1,551, which is around $800 more than they would have received under the previous plan.