SPEECH: Government's deal with One Nation to get it's unfair tax cuts across the line

I move that so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Manager of Opposition Business from moving the following motion immediately:
That the House
(1) notes that
    (a) gross debt has grown to a record half a trillion dollars under this government;
    (b) last night, in an act of gross incompetence, this government teamed up with Senator Pauline Hanson's One Nation to vote to support a bill which abolished all income tax rates from 2024. This is the latest act from a government consumed by chaos and incompetence which has outsourced all economic policy to Pauline Hanson's One Nation;
    (c) for years One Nation has advocated flat tax. Last night the government adopted this policy and set the rate at zero;
    (d) the government has also dealt with bracket creep by abolishing every single tax bracket; and
    (e) the bill which was supported last night at the third reading stage by the government and One Nation will open up a budget black hole of $240 billion every single year once implemented; and
(2) condemns this government for its gross economic incompetence.

Those opposite have now completely outsourced the economic policy of this nation to Pauline Hanson's One Nation party. We'll hear in question time today from the Treasurer and he'll say, 'Labor voted for this, Labor voted for that,' but he won't say what the government voted for last night. What he won't acknowledge is that last night they all—every single one of their senators—voted that from 2024 there will be no income tax at all, none—$240 billion wiped off the Commonwealth revenue sheet! They could get from half a trillion to a trillion dollars in gross debt now in just two years. In just two years the Treasurer has found a way of doing that. No wonder they wanted to shut down debate today!

Have we ever seen a situation before where, for what is meant to be the centrepiece of their budget strategy, they won't even allow a single speech from the shadow Treasurer? Not one speech. A government that's confident of its credentials doesn't need to shut debate down. A government that's not humiliated by teaming up with Senator Pauline Hanson doesn't need to shut debate down. Those opposite decided that they won't let working Australians have a tax cut unless they personally get one too. That's what Senator Hanson did, that's what the Treasurer did and that's what the Prime Minister did. They wouldn't let the workers get a tax cut unless they got one too. That's the sort of government that needs to shut down debate. But a government that's confident of the economy, a government that's confident of what it's doing, doesn't need to do what it did in this House today.

For years we've heard One Nation argue this ridiculous position of flat tax, and we've heard the government talk about needing to get rid of bracket creep. But who would have thought that, last night, those opposite would've gone: 'Bingo! We've worked it out—let's just abolish tax; let's just abolish it all! That will work. That will be the option.' And every single one of them voted for it last night. So, today, when we've got the bill and we're giving the reasons to the Senate and telling them what they did, the government wants to hide the fact that what it did last night was the most extraordinary example of fiscal recklessness we will ever see.
We've had people in this House come up with harebrained schemes before. We've had people in the cross bench in the Senate at different points come up with really wild ideas.

But no-one has ever done what Liberal and National party senators did last night with One Nation. Nobody before has ever said the answer is to abolish all taxation, all these tax brackets and they say it's been a disincentive. So what's the ultimate incentive? The ultimate incentive, from their end, is to abolish all taxation. There is a bit of a problem with that. The first problem is you then make a choice. Do you abolish all the services that it was going to fund, or do you just let debt go all the way up? What's the government's answer to that? They have found a way to do both. Remember all the talk of debt and deficit before they came to office? Remember that they voted to abolish the debt cap? And where has that got us? Half a trillion dollars in gross debt. And now they have found a way to add an extra half a trillion dollars to it every two years. The level of incompetence from this Treasurer was marked from the time he got the job.

When he got the job, he brought in a $16 billion hole in legislation. He has been coming into this place without a shred of anything other than anger. Who needs argument, who needs rationality, when you can get really cranky? Who needs to put any sort of rational argument together when you have that one mode? Turn the switch, and then it is anger.
What doesn't come over on the microphone when people watch question time at home—we feel for them, but there are some people who do it!—is all the interjections when the Treasurer gets up. They say, 'Mate, why don't you use anger this time? Why don't you get a little bit cranky this time?'—because that's the only mode he's got. The evidence is that he believes in getting debt and deficit higher than the nation has ever seen before. If he wants to do something about bracket creep, the answer he has come up with is not just to abolish one bracket but to abolish the lot.

When you outsource your economic policy to Pauline Hanson's One Nation, be careful what you wish for. What happened last night is no accident. One Nation would have thought it was terrific, and the Liberal and National parties would have thought it is now just what they do. The way they have behaved this term has changed fundamentally since One Nation returned to the federal parliament. Before One Nation was in the parliament, can we remember a Minister for Immigration saying it was a mistake to let people in this country based on their race and religion? Once One Nation were here, that happened.

Before the election, did we hear anything from those opposite about needing a university-level English test for citizenship? No. But One Nation arrived and, all of a sudden, that happened to. And last night we saw that it is not just their immigration policies, it is not just their citizenship policies; the government have now gone the full way and they are adopting the economic policies of the One Nation party.
Those opposite can be really proud, because no other government has managed to achieve what they have achieved. We are half a trillion dollars in debt now and another half a trillion dollars of gross debt will be added every two years. If we are worried about going too hard on the top end of town, they fixed that last night. It doesn't matter how much you earn; what they voted for last night is not one cent of income tax from 1 July 2024.

Labor stood up in the Senate and moved a consequential amendment to fix this. We thought: it is probably reasonable that income tax exists, it is probably not an outrageous position! But what did they do? They said, 'We know what Labor's up to!' Immediately upon hearing that, they said: 'Quick, Senator Hanson. We're with you. We'll stop them. We'll make sure income tax doesn't continue beyond 2024'—and they voted to prevent it. Procedurally the government did everything they could to try to make sure this wasn't revealed when their own backbench was present. They went to lengths I haven't seen in the parliament before to make sure that people were unaware of what bill had reached this House.

The bill that had reached this House was Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party to a T. It was a policy before this House only minutes ago that abolished all income tax revenue, that set the rate at zero, that added half a trillion dollars to debt every two years. I wish we had a Treasurer who at least had the courage to acknowledge that what happened in the Senate last night was a little bit silly. But no. No, he will respond in the only way he knows. Beware the anger, because there is no-one running the economy.

Tony Burke