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Budget in Reply 2021-22

Speeches in Parliament
Adam Bandt 12 May 2021

12/05/2021 19:30

Adam Bandt MP

One in three big corporations in this country pays no tax, and billionaires increased their wealth by a third during the pandemic, but this budget fails to make billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share, grows inequality and fast-tracks the climate crisis.

In the middle of a climate crisis, this budget finds $11.4 billion for fossil fuels this year alone and another $1.1 billion for new coal and gas projects, but nothing, for example, for electrifying transport, a sector responsible for 16 per cent of our emissions. This budget is champagne for the billionaires and real pain for everybody else. In fact, this budget is based on real wages going backwards for two years. It's tax cuts for the billionaires and handouts for big corporations but wage cuts for workers and poverty for the unemployed.

During the pandemic, while the rest of us were locked down and wages were flat, the billionaires made out like bandits. While young people went backwards, Australia's billionaires grew their wealth faster than billionaires anywhere else in the world. Australia's billionaires are like those wartime profiteers who, while the rest of the nation is making a sacrifice in a collective effort, lined their own pockets with cash. Gina Rinehart more than doubled her wealth during the pandemic and is now worth $36 billion. Twiggy, Rinehart and Clive Palmer increased their personal wealth by 141 per cent between them during the pandemic. This extreme wealth generation is obscene. We are creating a class of oligarchs who have too much power.

Everyone in this country deserves free child care and free education, everyone deserves Medicare backed dental and mental health care, everyone deserves to live in an affordable home and everyone deserves a well-paid, secure job if they want one. Instead, we have billions in handouts for big corporations and billionaires. We have Kerry Stokes with a new private jet, and we have Gerry Harvey refusing to pay back JobKeeper, while dishing out shareholder profits and CEO bonuses thanks to the public purse.

But we can fix this. At the next election, a swing against this terrible Morrison government will most likely put the Greens in the balance of power in both houses of parliament. The Greens are a few hundred votes away from holding the balance of power. In the balance of power after the next election, the Greens will bring in a series of new taxes on billionaires to make them pay their fair share. We recently announced a six per cent ongoing billionaires tax. It's urgent that we make them pay. They won't like it, but I don't care.

Today we announce our next plan: to tax the extreme wealth that billionaires accrued during the pandemic. We will introduce a one-off, 50 per cent tax on the increase in their wealth during the last 12 months. This tax only applies to 122 people but is worth $29 billion. It's only half of the increases in wealth that billionaires made during the pandemic—a crisis where we all made sacrifices—but it will be used to benefit all 25 million people in this country. Again, the billionaires will not like it, but I don't care. I care about the 25 million, the ones who were forced to raid their super or were denied government support because they worked in universities, the arts or cultural industries, or were in casual and insecure work. I care about the people who fought to keep a roof over their head, not the Australian billionaires who bought new jets thanks to government handouts.

I want to see the university and arts sector restored, not decimated, and I want to see us start to build back better, with renewable infrastructure that can replace our dirty coal and gas export industry and so that we electrify Australia's transport and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. And let's build one million new public housing homes for low-income earners while creating thousands of new apprenticeships in the process.

To fight the climate crisis and become a renewable energy superpower, we need to electrify our nation. Critical to the transformation is the electrification of our transport system, but this budget has no money to support the shift to electric vehicles. Sixty per cent of the budget's new infrastructure spend is on roads but not one dollar for EV charging infrastructure on those roads. The rest of the world is moving to electric vehicles and Australia is not ready. The revenue raised by the billionaires tax would help fund investments in charging infrastructure for our road network and for businesses and public buildings.

At the next election we will kick the Liberals out and we will push the next government to go further and faster. Further and faster on tackling the billionaires, further and faster on pushing up wages and creating jobs, further and faster on tackling the climate crisis. This is a fight for our future.

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