Speech - Constituency Statement (Inequality)








Time and time again, we have seen the Turnbull-Abbott government go after low- and middle-income earners in our community. We have seen them go after pensioners, the very men and women who have worked hard all of their lives to make our country great—all they expect is dignity and respect in their retirement. Through two budgets, we have seen this government go after low-and middle-income earners through cuts to family payments—a family on $65,000 a year with two children will lose up to $115 a week; a family on $120,000 with two children will lose up to $60 a week. At every opportunity, the Turnbull-Abbott government has gone after Medicare, penalty rates, progressive taxation, and investment in education. None of these things are safe under a Liberal government. So we have to ask the question: why are the Liberals so driven to destroy our social contract? It is a social contract which has delivered one of the highest living standards in the world, with some of the best outcomes in terms of equality of opportunity anywhere in the world.

Through the two budgets they have attacked low- and middle-income earners, but they have refused to go after the tax concessions which go to some of the wealthiest and highest-income people in our community. They sit in the parliament and take money away from working families but will not touch the tax concessions going to some of the wealthiest people in our community. Take negative gearing, for example: the top 20 per cent receive around half of all negative gearing subsidies; the top 10 per cent receive nearly 70 per cent of all capital gains subsidies. Why is this the case? The fact is: the last three Liberal leaders—Nelson, Turnbull and Abbott—represent three of the five wealthiest electorates in our country. Wentworth is the wealthiest, with a median income of $2,643. So we have a leadership that represents the wealthiest communities in the country attacking the middle class around the rest of the country. The Liberals and Nationals sit in the parliament and vote for it whilst refusing to do anything about the tax concessions which go to some of the wealthiest people in our community.

Why is this the case? Four years ago this week I wrote an essay for The Monthly, 'The 0.01 per cent: the rising influence of vested interests in Australia'. This is where big money talks, and it talks in the Turnbull and Abbott governments. So now we see the Property Council marshalling a big campaign to back in their sponsors, the people they really control and run: the Liberals in Canberra, who represent the 0.01 per cent. They do not represent the 30 or 40 or 50 per cent of working families out there in the electorates right around this country who are being dudded, week after week after week—having their Medicare attacked, having their education funding attacked and having their incomes attacked. And the Liberals sit in the parliament and defend some of these obscene tax concessions which deliver the benefits to the highest-income earners in our community. They do not represent the many; they represent the 0.01 per cent.