Legislative Council: Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Federal Budget

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:24): The matter I rise to speak on this afternoon is one that will be of importance to all South Australians who are dealing with the cost-of-living crisis that is engulfing our country and that is the Anthony Albanese government's second budget. This budget is a betrayal of the Labor Party's promise that no-one would be left behind. Despite a worsening cost-of-living crisis, Labor is committed to stage 3 tax cuts that will cost the budget $313 billion over 10 years—$313 billion that will go to some of our nation's highest income earners when one in six Australian children live in poverty. What an outrage.

These stage 3 tax cuts will turbocharge inequality, disproportionately rewarding men at close to double what women will receive, with 65 per cent of the benefits flowing to men over the next decade. Just over half of the total cost of the stage 3 tax cuts, $157 billion, will flow to people earning over $180,000 a year, and previous analysis has shown that the top 1 per cent of income earners will receive more than the 60 per cent of Australians who are on lower incomes combined.

It is telling to note what was missing from Treasurer Jim Chalmers' budget speech—he did not even mention climate change once, not once, despite the fact that his budget pledges $41 billion in fossil fuel subsidies. Let's not forget also this is a Labor government that is committing $368 billion to nuclear submarines—to building war machines—here in our state.

The cost-of-living measures in the budget do not even begin to address the scale of the rental, housing and poverty crises that are engulfing this country. There is nothing in the budget to ease the burden for those who are dealing with student debt, yet uni students are bearing the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis in our country, with many regularly skipping meals, falling behind on rent and being forced to abandon their degrees in favour of paid work.

The Labor Party have increased JobSeeker and we welcome that, but by a measly $2.85 a day. That is $2.85 a day, bringing JobSeeker to $50 a day, when the poverty line sits at $88 a day. How is someone in trouble meant to survive off that? It is absolutely pathetic. The Labor Party has also cut $74.3 billion from the NDIS over the next 10 years and all these decisions have been made in the context of delivering a $4.2 billion surplus—money in the bank while people sleep on the street. Talk about warped priorities.

The Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said that the government has had to make some tough choices. I do not accept that. The tough choices are being made by the ordinary men and women of our country, including South Australians, who are doing it tough, who have to choose between whether or not they can put food on the table or whether or not they can pay their rent on time or whether or not they can pay their electricity bills. These tough choices are being imposed on them by this Labor budget because of the failure of leadership that we are seeing in Canberra, and this is happening in the middle of a once-in-a-generation inflation crisis, where again ordinary people are paying the brunt for inflation that is being turbocharged by large corporations.

We forget that the cause of this inflation crisis is not the ordinary Australian. The culprits are big banks, the energy and mining sectors and supermarkets that are making record profits. In fact, The Australia Institute estimates that surging corporate profits are to blame for more than two-thirds of our nation's inflation problem.

I would urge this chamber to look at The Australia Institute's analysis of ABS National Accounts data from the December quarter of 2019 to the most recent September quarter of 2022 where it was found that 69 per cent of inflation above the mid-point of the Reserve Bank's 2 to 3 per cent range was attributable to rising corporate gross profits. This crisis is being driven by corporate greed; that is what is driving this crisis. Yet, we see a budget that is going to prop up the big end of town, giving them support, giving them more relief, while ordinary Australians do it tough.

Time expired.