The Greens have warned of a looming war in the Senate unless tax cuts for high-income earners are axed in the new Labor government’s first budget.
Leader Adam Bandt says his party will use its balance of power in the Senate to force Labor to draft a socially responsible budget, not one focused on tax cuts for the rich, and handouts to coal and gas companies that pay no tax at all.
“The Greens will not support a Labor budget based on cuts that hurts everyday people while continuing the handouts to billionaires,” he told the Queensland Medical Club on Friday.
He later said that would not involve blocking supply but warned the Greens would demand amendments if Labor presents a budget that seeks to cut its way out of trouble, while keeping tax concessions signed off by Scott Morrison in 2018.
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“Budgets require several pieces of legislation to get passed. We have the right to move to amend those, or to even not support some of them,” Mr Bandt said.
“The government is going to find it very hard to persuade us that we should be cutting public spending at the same time as they want to give billions of dollars to help fund tax cuts to people like Clive Palmer.”
Mr Bandt used the speech to conflate what he calls a wealth equity crisis with the climate change crisis, saying one can help fix the other.
“These tax cuts haven’t come into effect yet … for the amount we save, we could get dental into Medicare, build one million affordable homes, wipe student debt and build the clean energy infrastructure we need to get off coal and gas,” he said.
“By stopping the tax cuts for billionaires, ending the handouts to the coal and gas corporations and make the big corporations and billionaires pay their fair share of tax, the public purse would be $433 billion better off over the decade.”
Mr Bandt said the Greens wanted to be constructive.
But he said the party was not a rubber stamp and would use its “mandate and power” to push the government to go further and faster on the climate action and inequality.
“We’re open to working constructively with the new government, but they’ve got to drop this ‘my way or the highway’ approach. The public has just rejected that kind of hairy-chested politics,” he said.
The stage three income tax cuts were signed off by then-treasurer Scott Morrison in 2018.
Due to begin in 2024/25, they will see the top 45 per cent tax bracket start from $200,000. And everyone earning between $45,000 and $200,000 will pay 30 per cent in income tax.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has repeatedly ruled out ditching the tax cuts despite budget pressure that requires a cap on spending in the upcoming budget.