The Australian Greens have used their Budget in Reply speech to announce a new tax on extreme profiteering by billionaires during the pandemic.
The new tax, which only applies to the 122 richest Australians, will raise $29 billion. It will be taxed on the amount their wealth increased between March 2020 and March 2021.
While everyone else struggled during the pandemic, Australia’s billionaires increased their wealth by $90 billion, a 34% increase, for a total of $417b between them. The one-off levy, similar to a proposal from Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey in the United States, would see billionaires pay a tax of 50% on the gains made during the pandemic.
Greens Leader Adam Bandt said billionaires in Australia made out like bandits during the pandemic, often off the back of receiving public subsidies like JobKeeper, and the tax was urgently needed to make our country fairer and recover from the pandemic by cheating secure jobs and providing people with a better life.
The Greens Leader will say in his speech that the profiteering tax would address what the Budget missed by helping restore funding to Australia’s decimated university sector, start building 1 million new public housing homes and getting Australia’s transport fleet running on renewable electricity.
Excerpts from Mr Bandt’s Budget in reply speech, to be delivered Wednesday evening:
1 in 3 big corporations 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, the Budget finds $11.4b for fossil fuels this year and another $1.1b for new coal and gas projects, but nothing for electrifying transport, a sector responsible for 16% of our emissions.
Meanwhile, it’s champagne for the billionaires and real pain for everyone else.
In fact, this Budget is based on real wages going backwards for two years.
It’s tax cuts for 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’ wealth grew faster than billionaires anywhere else in the world.
Australia’s billionaires are similar to wartime profiteers, who while the rest of the nation is making a sacrifice on 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% 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 childcare and early education. Everyone deserves to be able to access Medicare backed dental and mental care. Everyone deserves to live in an affordable home. And everyone deserves a well paid, secure job.
But instead, we have billions in handouts for big corporations and billionaires. We have Kerry Stokes’s new private jet and we have Gerry Harvey refusing to pay back JobKeeper while dishing out shareholder profits and CEO bonuses.
We can fix this.
At the next election, a swing against the Morrison government will most likely put the Greens in 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.
We recently announced a 6% ongoing billionaire’s tax. It’s urgent that we make them pay. They won’t like it. They love not paying their fair share.
And today we announce our next plan, to tax the extreme wealth made during the pandemic.
We will introduce a 50% tax on the increase in their wealth during the last twelve months. This tax only applies to 122 people is worth $29 billion.
It’s only half of the increases in wealth billionaires made during the pandemic, a crisis where we all made sacrifices, and will be used to benefit all 25 million people in this country.
Again, the billionaires won’t like it, but I don’t care.
I care about the 25 million. The ones who were forced to raid their super. Or denied government support because they worked in universities, the arts and cultural industries. Or those who were in casual and insecure work.
I care about the people who fought to keep a roof over their heads, not the Australian billionaires who bought new jets.
I want to see the university sector and the arts sector restored and expanded, not further decimated.
I want to see us start to build back better with renewable infrastructure that can replace our dirty coal and gas export industry so that we can electrify Australia’s transport and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
And let’s build 1 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, and critical to the transformation is the electrification of our transportation system.
But this Budget has no money to support the shift to electric vehicles. 60% of the Budget’s new infrastructure spend is on roads, but not one dollar for 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.
Transforming our transportation networks and building our nation, ensuring that when petrol car makers switch to electric over the next decade that Australia is ready.
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 secure jobs.
Further and faster on tackling the climate crisis.
This is the fight for the future.