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Senator Robert Simms calls out the LNP on privilege

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Robert Simms 11 Nov 2015

Senator SIMMS (South Australia) (20:15): I might take this opportunity to respond to some comments made in relation to this bill during the previous debate. I noted with great interest the comments of Senator McKenzie and the suggestion that the Australian Liberal and National parties are now, apparently, the bastions of fairness in Australian politics. 'Through the looking glass' indeed, because this comes at the same time that the Liberal and National parties have been talking about increasing the GST from 10 to 15 per cent-a huge impost on Australian families. We know that the Liberal and National parties are the parties that tend to focus on the interests of the rich and powerful, but when it comes to the most vulnerable members of our community they are missing in action. So much of this particular legislative approach seems to be based on this idea of the mythical Australian graduate who is earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year working on Wall Street. But what about the Australian graduate who is on an average income, who is not aware of these taxation arrangements and who finds themselves caught completely unawares by this change to the legislative regime?

 

Senator Whish-Wilson: Mr Temporary Chairman, I rise on a point of order. I do not think the good senator can hear himself talk, at the moment, there is so much noise in these chambers.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Thank you, that is a fair point. I ask senators who wish to continue their conversations to do so elsewhere.

Senator SIMMS: The point I was making is that our concern is about those young people and Australians who are living overseas who are not aware of the change to the taxation regime. People plan their lives on the basis of this kind of legislation, and to expect Australians who are expats living overseas to follow the vagaries of Australian politics seems naive and out of step with the way that most people plan their lives. That is why the Australian Greens have been advocating for a different approach.

I find it ironic, in the extreme, that the Liberal and National parties would accuse the Greens of being a party that does not stand up for fairness in this place. It is ironic, indeed, when one considers the record of this Liberal-National government when it comes to budget cuts that target the most vulnerable in our community and a plan to increase HECS and increase the cost of living for each and every Australian through a great big new tax on everything. The Australian Greens are proud of the role that they play in advocating for fairness in this parliament, and certainly will not be lectured by the Liberal-National coalition, in that regard.

I have some questions for the minister. How will the government inform foreign residents of the changes to their compliance responsibilities under this bill?

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