Questions Without Notice: Take Note of Answers - 24 November 2015


 

Senator SESELJA(Australian Capital Territory) (15:18): I find it highly ironic that Senator Gallagher is talking about housing affordability, given her record and the record of the government that she was part of in squeezing tens of thousands of Canberra families out of the housing market. It was achieved through deliberate policies, which colleagues like Bob Day have commented on in terms of other states. The ACT was at the forefront of these deliberate policies. They own a lot of land and they deliberately push the price of land up to keep their profits up as a government, forcing families to take on more and more debt just to get into the housing market. Then they put a massive tax on units for those who rent or for those who want to purchase a unit. It is no wonder that Senator Gallagher would not want to stay and defend her record on this, because the government she was part of and then led was just outrageous when it came to forcing Canberra families out of the housing market.

 

 

What I want to do now is talk about the debate we are having about the GST or about tax more broadly, I think it is fair to say—

 

Senator Conroy:You don't want to talk about the GST.

 

Senator SESELJA:I am happy to talk about the GST—

 

Senator Conroy:Good, then do so.

 

Senator SESELJA:I am very happy to talk about it, but I will not talk about it in the same context as Labor state premiers seem to want to talk about it, which is, 'Raise the GST and give us more of it. Give as more money.' That is what certainly Andrew Barr in the ACT would like. That is what Jay Weatherill would like. It is, 'Yes, please. Go ahead and raise the GST, but give us the money.' I do not think that is the kind of conversation we should be having when it comes to tax reform. When it comes to tax reform we should not be taking the Labor premiers' or Labor chief ministers' way of doing things. What we should be on about, and what this government needs to be on about, is lowering the overall tax burden on Australians. That is the starting point for any conversation about tax reform. It is about lowering the tax burden. It is not about jacking up taxes so we can give more money to state governments, who often spend it in highly inefficient ways, whilst increasing the burden on Australian taxpayers. But let's not be afraid of the conversation, as the Labor Party appears to be. What state Labor premiers are saying as part of the conversation is effectively that we should just jack up taxes and give them more money. Even if I reject that, at least they are engaging in the conversation. At least they are engaging in a conversation about how we best make sure we lower the tax burden—well, they are not in that part of that conversation, but some state premiers are part of a conversation about the future of taxation in Australia.

 

I disagree with this prescription of higher and higher taxes for more and more spending. That is not the way to prosperity. The way to prosperity is actually to give Australians more of their own money. The GST of course—

 

Senator Conroy:The 'taxation is theft' plan.

 

Senator SESELJA:No, but there are levels of taxation that are far too high.

 

Senator Conroy:You need to give rich people more money because they use it smarter! Give more rich people more money because they use it better!

 

Senator SESELJA:If Senator Conroy believes there is no level of taxation that is too high for him, that is an opinion he is free to express, but it is an opinion I absolutely reject. Certainly I believe, and the coalition believes, that we should always be looking to keep taxes as low as possible to allow governments to do the things that they need to do and to allow citizens to have more of their money to spend on their priorities.

 

Senator Conroy:To give rich people more money.

 

Senator SESELJA:Senator Conroy's position is that if you give a tax cut to someone on $80,000, $100,000 or $150,000 a year then you are giving money to rich people. I reject that. We should be giving those people tax cuts—even if the Labor Party does not want to. We should be giving them tax cuts and we should be giving them more of their own money. Why don't you trust the Australian people to spend their money? Why don't you trust the Australian people? Why do you think you are better at spending their money than they are? This is the fundamental difference: we believe in the freedom of Australians to have as much of their own money as possible so that they can make the best decisions for their families. That should be the framework for any discussion about tax reform, rather than gouging more money out of Australians like Labor premiers and— (Time expired)