Tax reform and an overhaul of how public funds are spent are high on the agenda for one of Australia’s new parliamentarians.

Independent MP Allegra Spender ousted sitting Liberal Dave Sharma from the seat of Wentworth in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Backed by the Climate 200 group, the ‘teal’ candidate campaigned on a platform of greater action on climate change and restoring integrity to federal parliament.

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In her first speech to parliament, Ms Spender lamented how both sides of politics “signal their commitment to issues with dollar signs”.

“In business if you spend money and don’t get results, your budget gets cut,” she said on Monday.

“We are spending more money in education, in health, and are going backwards. 

“We must always remember that this isn’t our money, we are taking it out of the pockets of families who need it and they need it now more than ever.”

Ms Spender also paid tribute to her “female trailblazer” late mother, fashion designer Carla Zampatti, saying she would have been delighted to see the number of women elected to parliament in 2022.

Her father and grandfather both served as Liberal MPs in the House of Representatives, but Ms Spender said she is fiercely independent. 

“Your family gives you their values, and your career lets you live them, but they are not the reason I am here,” she said.

“I stand in the middle of the parliament because this is where most people of this country stand, in the middle.

“I’m here because my community, Wentworth, sent me to represent their values in this parliament.”

Ms Spender also called for reforms to Australia’s tax system, saying it is not fit for purpose. 

The 47th parliament must be the one to end the “politics of waste”, she said.

“We have a tax system that holds us back. Stamp duty that imposes costs on housing, payroll tax that is a tax on working. A tax system that doesn’t drive productivity,” Ms Spender said.

“We must face these hard questions.” 

But the independent also had a warning for the Liberals and Nationals, pointing out the number of female members in the lower house has never exceeded 25 per cent.

“Women will be represented, we have been polite, we have asked nicely and waited,” she said.

“We are done waiting, and we are taking what is ours. This cross bench reflects this. Ignore it at your peril.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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