Budget in Reply 2022
This budget of bribes makes the climate crisis worse, locks in tax cuts for the wealthy and makes housing more expensive. The budget gives coal, oil and gas corporations more than $37 billion, but climate spending is cut by 35 per cent. If you're on a low income, you get a one-off $420 payment. But a billionaire gets $9,075, not as a one-off but every year as a tax cut. There's $13 billion of public money—your money—going to push up housing prices but no new money to build affordable homes. But the good news is we are less than 50 days from kicking this terrible government out, and this budget shows why that day can't come soon enough.
Coal and gas are the main causes of the climate crisis. Gas is as dirty as coal. We need to get off coal and gas, not give them more of the public's money. We need to make coal and gas corporations pay a fair share of tax, not pay them to mine and burn our future. The Prime Minister has admitted that the climate crisis is making the country harder to live in, but this budget puts people's lives at risk. There's $300 million to open up new gas fields like the Beetaloo and $50 million for gas pipelines we don't need. Vague promises from Liberal and Labor to get to net zero by 2050 won't make up for opening more coal and gas mines. There are 114 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline backed by Liberal and Labor. In the middle of a climate crisis, they are throwing more fuel on the fire. This budget funds more floods.
The floods turbocharge that other crisis we're facing: the housing crisis. This budget makes housing more expensive. The Liberal Party—with Labor's support, it must be said—are handing $13 billion to the wealthy and property investors, which just pushes up prices for first home buyers, locks people out of housing and drives up rents, which are growing three times faster than wages. Four hundred thousand women over the age of 45 remain at risk of homelessness, and renters and first home buyers are getting locked out. But this budget uses public money—your money—to put housing even further out of reach. Unless we change course, young people simply won't be able to ever afford a home of their own and will struggle to keep up with rising rents.
Last week, I was in the Northern Rivers, where the floods ruined thousands of homes. Today, parts of Byron Bay, Lismore and other areas are again flooded. I was there with our local Greens candidate, Mandy Nolan, who joined me here in Canberra this week before returning to help her community deal with the floods. Her message to the Treasurer this week was the same one that I heard in Richmond before the floods. Before the floods, the Northern Rivers of New South Wales was one of the least affordable places to live in the country. Many people are still rebuilding from the fires two years ago. They needed action on the housing crisis years ago, and they need it now. But the Prime Minister was in hiding, offering no answers to people now struggling to find long-term, affordable and secure homes as they rebuild their lives.
Labor backs the billions of dollars in the budget to investors and the very wealthy, which will put even more people out of reach of housing. That's why people in places from Northern Rivers to inner-city Brisbane and Melbourne now back the Greens' plan to axe the handouts to people with more than one investment home and to build one million affordable homes that people can buy into for $300,000 or rent as public housing for 25 per cent of their income. That would tackle the housing affordability crisis.
This budget also makes Australia a more unequal place by dismantling our progressive tax system. The tax measures in this budget, which Labor backs, will see someone on the minimum wage pay the same tax rate as a CEO. By siding with the Liberals on the budget's stage 3 tax cuts, Labor and Liberal are introducing a flat-tax system, a trickle-down nightmare ripping $184 billion out of the budget so there's less money for public schools and hospitals. It is clear now that this government will not keep us safe. This government will not keep people safe from the climate crisis and they won't put a secure roof over your head. But the Greens will. We will kick this government out, build affordable housing, and keep coal and gas in the ground. We will tackle the housing crisis, we will cap rents and we will give renters more rights. We will push for a freeze on all new coal and gas projects, restore a price on pollution, drive investment in clean energy and make Australia a renewable energy superpower. This unfair budget shows it's time to kick the Liberals out. It is time to put the Greens in balance of power.