Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost Of Living Tax Cuts) Bill 2024 & Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost Of Living—Medicare Levy) Bill 2024

13 February 2024

Ms BYRNES (Cunningham) (21:54): Australian families are under pressure. Local community organisations and charities in Cunningham have been helping so many local families—people who are struggling to pay their bills and people who are struggling to get by. I recently visited Bulli Community Centre, which provides help to those in need. There were so many families lining up to receive help from their fortnightly food pantry. I would like to acknowledge the amazing work undertaken by Elizabeth Brassaud, the Manager of Bulli Community Centre, and her hardworking and passionate team of volunteers for their selfless work in support of our community. They relayed to me the pressure that so many people in our community were facing and the expanded services that they were providing.

Just before Christmas last year, my office organised a barbecue for Homeless Hub clients with Mandy Booker and her amazing team, who told me about how they were helping so many more people in our community. Ryan Park, Paul Scully and I joined many of our local Labor volunteers, who came together to provide a barbecue for Homeless Hub clients. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those Labor Party members who cooked meals and brought them along to the Homeless Hub. While it was only a small contribution, along with dinner we organised free haircuts by the amazing Kevin Crane from Broken Glass Hair and Michelle Alexander—two bright, friendly and incredibly generous people who provided beautiful cuts, styles and a laugh to Homeless Hub clients. A huge thankyou to Grant Logue from Harley and John's Seafoods, who provided fresh prawns, which were a really huge hit, for our Homeless Hub clients. Renay Horton All Occasions Flowers at Port Kembla brought along some beautiful Christmas bouquets. The team at Illawarra Multicultural Services also provided some lovely desserts. We had so many people there to help out people who are desperately in need of our community. It was a beautiful display of our community coming together to help other people in our local community.

For nearly 40 years the Wollongong Homeless Hub has been helping those in greatest need. They have reported an increase in demand for their services. Mandy Booker from the Homeless Hub said the cost-of-living crisis means they've seen demand for their services reach a 10-year high. Not only is demand for homeless services like Wollongong Homeless Hub increasing; the pressure is impacting the donations and philanthropic support that fill the gap of years of underfunding, resulting in a real risk of program cuts and people being turned away.

Before Christmas I also visited the Salvation Army, whose large team of volunteers help to pack hampers and toys for more than 350 families. We also visited the Lighthouse Christian church in Wollongong, which provides a range of services for people who are doing it tough.

The stories that I heard from the hardworking staff at all of our local community organisations left no doubt in my mind that we needed to rethink the stage 3 tax cuts. The coalition's tax plan was formulated in 2018, and the world has changed since then, including from the impact of COVID and the war in Ukraine. In my local community it was very clear that action needed to be taken. Around the world, countries are experiencing the same issues of high inflation. Sadly, dealing with the impacts of inflation and the housing crisis was not a priority for the former government. Rises in rent and mortgage repayments have significantly impacted on the discretionary expenditure of low- and middle-income households. Many families have been forced to go without and many have struggled to meet their commitments.

Our tax reforms deliver real reform to the tax system and real tax relief for all Australians. Under our plan, around 123,000 people in the Illawarra and the Southern Highlands will receive a bigger tax cut than they would have under the coalition's plan from five years ago. In Cunningham electorate, 84 per cent of people will be better off. By contrast, the opposition argued for higher tax cuts for high-income earners. Labor's plan is part of a broad program that is providing relief for all families and individuals by boosting incomes and reducing costs. Let's be clear about this: a person with an income of $100,000 will receive an annual tax cut of $2,179. This is $804 more than under the coalition's plan. A worker who earns the average taxable income of around $73,000 will receive an annual tax cut of $1,504, $804 more than that offered under the coalition's tax plan. A childcare worker on $40,000 will receive a $654 tax cut. How much would they have got under the coalition? Nothing. Importantly, from 1 July, 5.8 million women—80 per cent of taxpaying women—will receive a bigger tax cut. This bill, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Tax Cuts) Bill 2024, meets the real needs of Australians by increasing the size of their pay packets.

What do these changes mean for the Illawarra? They put more money in the pockets of nurses at Wollongong Hospital, more money in the pockets of teachers at our local schools and more money in the pockets of aged-care and childcare workers in Cunningham. All of these workers will benefit more under the Albanese Labor government's tax plan than they would have under the coalition's stage 3 tax cuts.

The SPEAKER: In accordance with the resolution agreed to earlier today, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

House adjourned at 22:00