Mr PASIN (Barker) (16:11): I think the member for Longman has got a little bit confused in this debate. She said that people in her community, Caboolture, do not want her to give banks a tax cut. What she needs to do is speak to the member for McMahon, because he comes in here, day in day out, arguing the case on behalf of the big banks, saying, ‘No, no, no! We can’t afford a levy. Please don’t levy us! We are just humble Australian banks.’ It might behove the member for Longman to work out that this government in this budget made a commitment to ask the banks of this country, the five big banks who have been the major beneficiaries of 26 years of unbridled and continuous economic growth, to put a small contribution to the economic welfare of this nation into the community chest. That is our position. She might want to speak to her shadow Treasurer, because he comes in here day after day giving us the banks’ lines.
How far the once proud Labor Party has moved from that time under Hawke and Keating, when they were principled and fought the good fight. There is time for governing and there is time for politicking. Unfortunately, what we see on the other side now is this constant barrage of politicking. They have dropped the pretence of fairness in favour of political expediency. If they were truly concerned about what was fair they would look at this budget and say, ‘It’s a fair cop—you’ve looked at what has been the needed, you’ve made some serious concessions, and we’ll meet you in the middle. We’ll extend a hand over the gap.’ They would come to us on things like Gonski and say, ‘For a very long time we’ve been arguing in favour of Gonski. We’ve been asking you to give a Gonski. In fact you have given a Gonski and we’re prepared to meet you in the middle.’
But that is not what we see here. They would be saying that a fair and reasonable way to fund the NDIS is a one-half of one per cent increase to the Medicare levy on all Australians earning above the appropriate threshold. But they do not do that. They come in here and try to engage in the kind of class politics which, quite frankly, denigrates them and runs down this whole place. At one stage they ran a campaign saying that we need to maintain the universality of Medicare. Those of us on this side of the House understand how important the universality of Medicare is. But in the very same breath they say, ‘This NDIS, which we want to be great champions of—and, by the way, we didn’t fully fund—we only want certain segments of the community to make a contribution for that.’ That is running down the concept of universality in this space and it is not fair. And what they do not say in this debate, of course, is that the millionaires they like to speak of would pay a half of one per cent additional levy on their full income; they would be making a disproportionately significant contribution to meeting the needs of everyday ordinary Australians who, sadly, suffer from a disability; or indeed they would be making provision for those who may one day become disabled—and there, but for the grace of God, go I.
In the time I have left, I want to make an observation about small business. There is a constant debate in this place about who is here to represent small business. Well, I do not know whether I represent small businesses but I come from a family who runs small businesses and I have run a small business in partnership with my wife. The member for Longman said that some on the other side do not know what it is like to go without. Well, let me tell you, in my small business there were times where I went without because I had to make sure the wages were paid. I want to remind those on the other side about the instant asset write-off. This is an opportunity that we have extended—and I am glad we have.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Irons ): The time allotted for this discussion has now expired.