Politics

The Government’s Tax Cuts For The Rich Just Passed The Senate With Very Little Debate

They actually shut down debate so they could pass it faster.

Well, it looks like Australia’s wealthiest are getting the tax cuts they definitely don’t need. The income tax plan the government proposed in its 2018 budget just passed the Senate 37-33, after One Nation’s remaining two senators decided they don’t actually care about battlers after all.

That tax plan, if you need a refresher, is the one that will eliminate the second highest tax bracket by 2024, meaning that someone earning $200,000 and someone earning $41,000 will be paying tax at the same rate in seven years’ time. There’s a bunch of other steps that will gradually reduce tax on the way to that, which you can read about here, but the upshot is that while they’ll affect nearly everyone, the bulk of these tax cuts are helping out rich people.

It is, by far, the biggest tax cut in Australian history. And that costs money, over $140 billion that could have gone to other government services. As Dr. Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, said this afternoon, “the tax cut package is gambling the future of our medical services, aged care services, disability services, and social security payments most of us rely upon at some stage in our lives.”

“Essential services will lose funding because tax cuts have to be paid for. When that happens, every person in Australia loses. We will all have to pay for services that in Australia, have been universally available to us all.” Oops.

So Wait, How Did This Even Pass Then?

How did a bill like this pass the Senate? Well, it turns out that One Nation’s remaining two (2) senators decided they’re not actually all about defending battlers after all — both Pauline Hanson and Peter Georgiou voted for the bill. The two Centre Alliance senators, along with David Leyonhjelm, Cory Bernardi, Brian Burston, Derryn Hinch and Fraser Anning all voted in favour too. Remember that next time any of the above try to claim they support “ordinary Australians”.

Labor, the Greens, and lone independent MP Tim Storer were the only senators to oppose it.

Also, This Parliament Is An Absolute Joke

The decision came after several days of debate that demonstrated what an absolute joke this country’s Parliament can be. At one point, the legislation on the table accidentally abolished all income tax from July 1 2024, because the Senate voted to gag debate before they were done messing around with amendments. That’s been fixed now, but still, come on guys.

There’s also that part about gagging debate — yesterday the government moved to set a time limit on Senate debate on the legislation, meaning that Labor and the Greens only had about 20 minutes to point out problems and try to move amendments. The government basically did this because they knew they had the numbers to pass the bill, and wanted to rush towards that vote.

As the Greens and Labor tried to point out, though, stifling debate removes any chance for the government’s supporters to change their mind. Quite a few of the bill’s supporters — the handful of votes that got it over the line — only got on board in the few days leading up to the vote, and had expressed concerns about the bill before that.

As Greens senator Richard Di Natale tried to point out as debate was being gagged, it wasn’t even clear if Pauline Hanson understood what she was voting for, given that she kept talking about how much it’ll help battlers, and also wrongly claiming that she personally would not receive a tax benefit.

Let the past two days be a really nice insight, then, into our government’s priorities right now — delivering tax cuts to the rich and stifling debate on them because it refuses to even entertain the possibility that it’s making a mistake. Nice one.