Tax Laws Amendment (2011 Measures No. 5) Bill 2011

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:13): I want to address a few remarks on the Tax Laws Amendment (2011 Measures No. 5) Bill 2011 and to support the amendment moved by my colleague Senator Cormann in relation to a review of the operation of the fringe benefits tax elements of the bill. I do want to talk about the fringe benefits tax on motor vehicles, but before I do that I want to highlight to those listening to this debate that Senator Milne proudly said to the Australian Taxation Office: 'You want more taxes. You've come to the right people.' You can imagine what sort of a hiding the Australian public and the Australian taxpayers are in for when the Greens are out there effectively inviting the Labor Party to tax more and more and are telling the tax office that they have a friend in the Greens.

The cost of living pressures on ordinary Australians at the moment are becoming unbearable. If the carbon tax does come inand I still hope and pray that sanity will prevail and it will not be imposed upon the Australian publicit will add to the cost of living pressures. It does not mean much for people in this chamberpublic servants, all of whom are on pretty good incomesbut for those who are struggling in Australia the carbon tax and all of these additional taxes, such as the flood levy tax, are all extra burdens increasing the cost of living, restricting their enjoyment of life and making it a lot harder for many families just to provide the basic necessities of life. Here we have a Labor-Greens alliancea coalition of Labor and the Greensrunning the government and proudly boasting that they are there to increase taxes.

I am looking forward to getting a copy of the Hansard of Senator Milne's addressand I will make sure it is distributedwhere she proudly boasts to the ATO: 'Want more taxes You've got the right people there.' The Labor Party has a propensity for taxing, they cannot help themselves. That is because they are such bad financial managers. Their debt blows out all the time on stupid programs like the pink batts program. They basically cannot handle money. There is the old adage: where money is concerned you cannot trust Labor. Now they have the Greens in an even more relevant position than they are today inviting the Labor Party to go ahead and increase the taxation burden on ordinary Australians.

I noted with some amusement Senator Milne telling us that in China there were going to be 10 million electric charging stations. One wonders what is going to power those electric charging stations. If they are like the ones that we use for the little vehicles that run around this parliament house, you plug them into the wall and your electricity charges these vehicles, which I assume is the sort of thing Senator Milne is talking about10 million new electric charging stations. Where does the electricity come from In China in particular it comes from more and more coal-fired power stations that are being built every day. There are a couple of windmills, sure, and a few solar panels but China is increasing its energy from coal-fired power stations, many of them of course using coal from central Queensland, the state that I and you, Madam Acting Deputy President Boyce, represent in this chamber. Again the Greens are a bit confused in the messages they give at times.

The thing I really did want to talk briefly on tonight was the increases that will impact upon those people, tradesmen, salesmen, couriers, primary producers and small business people, who use their vehicles for more than 25,000 kilometres every year. If you live in Hobart like Senator Milne does, Perth like Senator Ludlum does, Melbourne or Brisbane like opposition speakers do, sure, you can cut down the usage of your car and that is good for everythinggood for emissions, good for pollution, good for looking at alternativesbut if you live in country Australia, particularly if you live in Northern and remote Australia, you really do not have much alternative. If you live in Laura, where I was the other day for the Indigenous dance festival, and you want an electrician, that electrician has to come from Cooktown, I think 170-odd kilometres away, or from Mareeba, 250 kilometres away. If your motor vehicle breaks down and you have to get a mechanic out to fix it, the tradesmen coming out to do that of necessity has to drive long distances. So this bill is going to add costs not just to people in the cities, who might use their vehicles but have an alternative, but to people in remote Australia, Northern Australia and in rural Australia generallythe farmers, who do not have an option.

The Labor Party and the Greens have no interest in those sorts of people and that is why you get this sort of legislation. I understand the Senate Economics Legislation Committee in a rather quick inquiry had a look at the bill. This whole legislation has been framed in such a way as to make it impossible for the coalition to oppose it, particularly at five minutes to midnight on practically the last sitting day of the financial year, when these things are always rushed through. As Senator Cormann has mentioned, we will be supporting this bill, but Senator Cormann's amendment is very appropriate and it arises from the Senate committeethat is, the amendment requires the Economics References Committee to undertake a review of the operation of the amendments made by the bill 12 months after commencement and report on them so that we can actually see the impact.

But I can tell you now that the impact is going to mean that people living in rural, regional and remote Australia are going to pay more. Does the Labor Party care about that No. They get few votes out there. Following the carbon tax they will get no votes out there. Following the fiasco of the live cattle ban I warn any Labor Party politician not to go into Cape York, the Gulf country, the Northern Territory or the north of Western Australia because they will be literally lynched by people involved in the live cattle trade. People in those areas have found their livelihoods have disappeared overnight. The Labor Party are not interested in that, as I say, they get few votes there and the few that they did get, they will not get now. They just look after the capital city people and this sort of thing is not too bad for them, because there are alternatives. But there are no alternatives for tradesmen or professional people wanting to get assistance, as I say, using the example again in Laura when they have to get their tradesmen from 200 or 300 kilometres away. I despair for those people who do live in rural and regional Australia. These sorts of fringe benefits tax concessions did try and bring a bit of justice and equity. They tried to level the playing field, so to speak, so that Australians living in those more remote areas had some opportunity to get ahead.

These people need a champion. They are not big numerically and therefore are not of interest to the Labor Party in the political system. You, Madam Deputy President Boyce, I know are aware of this. You understand the issues, but I cannot believe that the Labor Party people can be so insensitive, so ignorant or so uncaring when it comes to the additional burdens that country peoplepeople living in remote Australiahave to carry. The bill that is being put through and that meets com_mitments made in this year's budget will make it more and more difficult for those of us who live in the country removed from the major capital cities to get the basic services of life. I hope that one day the Labor Party will understand this and bring a bit of equity, fairness and justice into the way they tax Australians.

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