HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2016
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a. That yesterday in Question Time, the Prime Minister said, and I quote, “increasing capital gains tax is no part of our thinking whatsoever”;
b. That just hours later, the Prime Minister’s own office confirmed to media that not only had the Government not ruled out changes to capital gains tax, it was still actively considering changes;
c. That leaked Coalition talking points from the Prime Minister’s own office contradict the Prime Minister’s statement in Question Time yesterday;
d. Therefore, by the admission of his own office the Prime Minister has misled the Parliament and through it the Australian people;
e. That the Minister for Finance repeatedly refused to rule out changes to capital gains tax on ABC News 24 this morning as the Prime Minister had done in Question Time yesterday; and
f. The Prime Minister failed to act in accordance with Clause 5.1 of his own Statement of Ministerial Standards by refusing to attend the House to correct the record as soon as practicable; and
2. Censures the Prime Minister for:
a. Misleading the Parliament and the Australian people about his changes to tax;
b. Saying one thing and then doing another; and
c. Leading a Government that has no plan and which cannot be trusted by Australians.
Either this Prime Minister is dishonest or he is incompetent, he cannot be both.
The Prime Minister needs to rule out increasing capital gains tax on the superannuation accounts of millions of people.
What is it about this Prime Minister that makes him so out of touch that he will defend to the last drop of Liberal blood, reducing the 50 per cent capital gains discount to 25 per cent, but when it comes to defending the capital gains tax discount of millions of Australians in their superannuation - well, he is out of town for that.
We heard him today in Parliament confirm that he thinks that superannuants who are getting concessional payment of taxation don't deserve to have the 33 per cent capital gains tax discount. What we see - and the Prime Minister says he didn't say it at all.
This Prime Minister - yesterday he got up in Parliament in regard to a question by the Shadow Treasurer and I quote the question:
"Does the Prime Minister rule out announcing any changes to capital gains tax?"
And it was referring to his previous answer. "Any changes".
What happens is, the Prime Minister is so arrogant that he thinks he can unsay words and make them miraculously disappear, but the problem for him is this: every journalist in the press gallery heard exactly what he said. Every newspaper in Australia showed that he was ruling out tackling capital gains tax and what does he do? No, he says, they are all wrong.
Then you have the poor old hapless Minister for Resources, he is overseas, but never misses an opportunity to remind everyone he is there, he rings into Australia, that's fantastic: “It's Josh on the line, what's the question?" And the minister says when he is asked about capital gains tax he said, "Oh, yes, the Prime Minister has ruled it out. He has ruled it out."
Then of course you have the poor old Minister for Finance, he drew the short straw. He gets to do a press conference with Mr Turnbull and when asked about was the CGT in or out, or what's happening, the Minister for Finance looks around and today he does another interview and he gets asked the question about CGT tax changes and he doesn't back up his Prime Minister.
It is not a good sign for this government when you've got the Minister for Finance going one way, you've got the Prime Minister going another way and the poor old Treasurer in witness protection.
But it was a moment in parliamentary history of the Turnbull Government yesterday when we have got the Prime Minister, he is up at the box and he is making tax policy in Question Time.
His command of detail is so good that he doesn't need to check the detail!
And we saw the bewildered looks of the faces of the members behind him. To be fair for the Deputy Prime Minister, it's a standard look, but in the case of the rest of his colleagues, they just heard the Prime Minister make a captain's call on taxation.
Now, I feel a little bit of a pang for the poor old Member for Warringah. He got undermined by Malcolm Turnbull for making captain's calls, but as soon as Mr Turnbull is up there, the captain's call is back.
We know what this leader of the Government said, he said there would be no changes to capital gains tax whatsoever.
So today we ask him to back in his words and there are really three options that the Prime Minister could have picked: tell the truth, or indeed tell us what was happening with capital gains tax or he could have just said: "everyone else is wrong."
The standard Turnbullian response to anything is "everyone else is wrong.”
We are lucky enough to have an infallible Prime Minister in this country. We are very lucky to know that we are led by the smartest man in Australia, self-declared. But even when he gets it is wrong, he is still right!
The rest of us mere mortals don't understand the extent of Wentworth genius.
But of course, it's not just the Minister for Resources, the Minister for Finance, the collective media of Australia who got it wrong yesterday and misunderstood Mr Turnbull.
There are the talking points. Some super tax reform patriot from the Government has provided the talking points and it is very clear in the talking points that the capital gains tax changes are on the table, and this is what we've learned to expect from this Prime Minister - he says one thing and he does another.
And this is not the only issue that he says one thing and does the other - dare I mention the long list of litany of sellouts when he became Prime Minister.
Marriage equality, the Republic, climate change, captain's calls, and then he also says that he has now been thinking carefully about capital gains taxes.
And when we ask this Prime Minister in a question in Question Time today, we said: "Well, which is the correct answer?".
Yesterday where you said there was no thinking about capital gains tax whatsoever, or indeed, is he looking at going after the superannuation accounts of millions of Australians?
We are told that question is simply out of order. Well, it's not out of order.
This fellow here has been giving us a lecture about protecting vested interest.
He thinks the Australian dream, when we are looking at reforming capital gains tax and negative gearing, he thinks the Australian dream is the ability to negatively gear your seventh house.
Let me just say to this Prime Minister of this out-of-touch government, the great Australian dream is to be able to get your first house.
Why is it that these bastions of privilege are so willing to fight to defend the capital gains tax 50 per cent discount, and the ability to use taxpayer subsidies to subsidise your negatively geared seventh house, yet they do nothing about housing affordability?
We listen to the lectures of this government about housing affordability, but the truth of the matter is they do nothing.
Of course, when we go back to look at what has been happening with this mislead by the Prime Minister of the Australia, it wasn't just the talking points, it wasn't just the Minister for Resources, the Minister for Finance, or what the media heard.
What we heard is that the Prime Minister's own office has been explaining to Australian journalists, they didn't hear it right or they didn't quite mean that.
I’ve loved the Prime Minister's office in the last two and a half years, I love them.
They were willing to brief against a lot of people in the last two and a half years, and many of you know that, but I've never seen them roll a grenade against their own boss before.
The Prime Minister has got no plan, we know that, and as for the Treasurer, we hear he has been demoted from attending the meetings. Thank goodness, they say.
Martin Parkinson and Senator Arthur Sinodinos are there to sort out Malcolm's tax promises because they wouldn't let the Treasurer of Australia anywhere near taxation. That will lead to a run on the dollar, I'm sure.
Now, when we had this debate about taxation, we heard five and a half months ago, we heard that there's going to be new economic leadership, new economic leadership.
I tell you what, there hasn't been much leadership, but there has been a lot of talk, there has been a lot of talk.
Australia loves the waffle, we love hearing the talk and the spin, but we don't hear much substance.
When will this Government come up and announce their tax plans?
If you can't trust them on the CGT, how can we not trust them to go back to the well on GST and the 15 per cent?
Today you have just said that you are open to considering halving the capital gains tax discount on millions of superannuation accounts.
I see the Prime Minister shaking his head, probably in some rueful frustration we don't accept the inevitability of his logic.
The truth of the matter is this Prime Minister needs to have a tax plan which will last longer than five minutes.
We need to have a plan for housing affordability and budget repair, but he says no to negative gearing changes.
We will make sure our changes are not retrospective - they haven't ruled out making them retrospective.
We will make sure that negative gearing is still available for new housing so that people who want to negatively gear, can.
But what we will also do is we will take up the fight about tax reform, which will make sure that Australians find it easier to afford a house, that will make it easier to help Budget repair, and will make it easier to fund health and education.
What we also say is that on taxation and tax reform, and why this Prime Minister has misled the House, is he talks about multinationals but he won't actually articulate how much they will raise from multinationals.
We saw poor old buggerlugs, the Treasurer of Australia, get up there and sounding like the workers friend when talking on multinational taxation - we hear no plan on taxation from them.
This is a Prime Minister who says one thing and does another.