I believe our economy should serve its people. Labor will always work for an economy that is both strong and fair. We can deliver growth, efficiency and social justice when we provide quality education and training, support industries to provide jobs that are fairly paid and stable, and recognise the distinct needs of regional Australia, all while embracing the potential of technology and innovation. Australia is at its best when the benefits of economic growth are there for all to share.
The motion we are considering this afternoon asks us to debate how the federal government's housing affordability policy will fail young Australians unless it ends tax breaks for investors, removes stamp duties, and transitions to a broad based land tax. Sadly, I think the motion misdescribes the problem, because the Turnbull government's housing affordability policy has already failed young Australians, and it is at risk of failing other generations as well. The real problem is that this government does not have a policy about housing affordability and has not had a policy about it at any point since it was first elected.
More than a week ago Labor made the public observation that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead. We did so on the back of the very public statements by President-elect Trump that he remains opposed to the trade deal.
Before turning to the substance of the bill, I would like to take a moment to look at the path it has taken to get here. When the Prime Minister used this bill is a trigger for a double dissolution election, he talked about how important and urgent the bill was. That is not borne out in any way by the path that the bill has taken.
I rise to support the motion, and in doing so I want to place it in its proper context, which is that the government is most keen to have a debate about taxation and in particular have a debate about the GST and the role that a rise in the GST might play in plugging holes in revenue and in funding a cut to corporate taxes. That is the reality of the debate we are having now.
The Prime Minister has spoken about the need to undertake reforms to deliver long-term gains for all Australians, which may create winners and losers in the near term. It was a fairly clear statement about how he sees that dynamic. But clearly nobody has told the Attorney-General that that is the view of the Prime Minister, because the Attorney informed this chamber earlier that nobody is a loser in a prosperous economy and this economy is prospering.
Earlier this year the New South Wales Liberal government faced a choice. It needed to purchase new trains, a contract that would be worth billions of dollars and hundreds of jobs. The Baird government had the option in that process to choose a consortium that promised to manufacture the cars in a new facility in the Illawarra—a region that I think we could all agree deserves a break—or to pay slightly less to have the trains constructed in Korea. The Liberals chose Korea.
We have heard this afternoon that there are some senators in this chamber who are concerned about tobacco taxes taking money out of people's pockets. On the Labor side, we are more concerned about tobacco taking years off people's lives. We heard a quite moving testimony from Senator Bilyk about the very personal cost that came about from tobacco-related disease.
The Prime Minister was asked yesterday if he had a recommendation for young people who could not afford to buy a home. His response had 351 words but not a single recommendation. This, of course, is just one recommendation less than Mr Hockey, who once unhelpfully suggested that young people should just get a better job—in an economy over which the coalition has presided which has the highest unemployment rate in years.
I rise to address Australia's rental crisis. 2.7 million Australian households rent. They are the forgotten face of Australia's housing affordability crisis. They are forgotten in our national conversation and, unhappily, they are forgotten by the Turnbull government.
I spoke at Labor’s National Conference about tax and tax transparency: If people and companies want to use contrived structures to avoid tax, they should be prepared to publicly defend their decisions.