Scott Morrison’s three-stage tax package is set to pass thanks to the vote of Jacqui Lambie. But with her vote also crucial in deciding whether Peter Dutton will repeal the Medevac Act, one has to wonder how we got here.
It seems that Scott Morrison government will be able to push through his election bell-cow, the $158 billion, three-stage tax package after securing the desires of Tasmania’s Jacqui Lambie. The tax package has been routined panned by experts, especially the third stage, which would purportedly whirl us “back to the 1950s”, which certainly seems plausible on a social, as well as economic level. Church on Sunday, coal-fired Beef Welly for afters.
But, staying on topic, the first stage of the plan will see a bump in low and middle-income earners, as soon as we file this year’s tax return. The third, however, offers massive tax breaks to those who earn a massive amount of yearly dollars.
For the $158b cost of the tax cuts that LNP & ALP just voted for, we could build houses for every homeless person in Australia, get dental into Medicare and still have money left over.
We should use public money to reduce inequality, not for tax cuts for millionaires.#Greens
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) July 4, 2019
So how did it happen? Well, first, it passed through the House of Representatives, which gave us a fairly visceral indication of which way the wind is blowing in Canberra, with only Adam Bandt and Andrew Wilkie opposing the plan.
We moved to lift assistance to low-income earners while stopping the tax cuts, but failed. https://t.co/1jrSFkAj4x
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) July 2, 2019
The other shoe fell this morning, slipping onto the metatarsal of Lambie, Tasmania’s other Cinderella (shout out to Queen Mary), voted for the package on the proviso that the government would “forgive the $157 million social housing debt her state owes the Commonwealth. This would save Tasmania $15 million a year, which Lambie wants used to deal with issues of homelessness and social housing,” per The Conversation’s Michelle Grattan.
Fun side note, Mathias Cormann expressly noted that there would be no horse-trading over the package, which, clearly makes the Lambie deal a horse of a different colour. For what it’s worth, Lambie said that some details would be subject to the iron of democracy, stating, “what I don’t want to be doing is rushing out saying here’s the money and that’s it. We want to make sure that that money is targeted we’re still dealing on good faith. And I look very forward to that over the next four to six weeks.”
Cormann told Sky News that “Senator Lambie has been a very forceful advocate.”
The other crossbench votes needed were from the Centre Alliance (which was secured over a deal regarding gas prices, again, horse-trading), and Cory Bernardi, which you would imagine would be a given, considering that he’s trying to invite himself back to the party.
But, clearly, Cory Bernardi or Jacqui Lambie should not be the measure of democracy. They’re clearly in a position to be esoteric. The elephant in the room, clearly, is Labor’s callow pachyderm, the one that decided to pass the measures without argument, with Michelle Grattan defining their inaction thusly, “faced with the inevitability of the tax package passing, Labor said it would continue to pursue its attempt to split the package and then consider its options.”
Translation, Labor will not oppose the final vote, clearly, they’re fine with blithely sitting in the corner, deciding not to upset the apple cart while the stock rots.
There’s a further sideshow to this. Jacqui Lambie is also set to be the deciding vote regarding Dutton’s erasure of the Medevac act when it reaches the Senate floor. Whether today’s vote indicates that she’s siding with the Coalition, or that she’s an astute politician, one hellbent on fighting for her individual morals, it indicates something larger.
If Lambie is the last candidate with any source of antagonism left, or any desire to make a deal, maybe the ALP should have put her in charge.
That, or as David M. Green indicated on Twitter, we are truly fudged. As he wrote, “Lambie the negotiator: I’ll give you this extremely large thing but only if you give me this small thing to address a problem that will be actually be made worse by your huge thing.”