The Senate has passed the government’s revamped stage 3 tax cuts just days before the Dunkley by-election

Eleanor Campbell, Jack Quail and Duncan EvansNCA NewsWire
Shadow foreign minister Simon Birmingham has welcomed the resignation of the Palestinian PM. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
Camera IconShadow foreign minister Simon Birmingham has welcomed the resignation of the Palestinian PM. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

The Albanese government’s overhauled stage 3 tax cuts are now law.

The Bill, which broke a key election promise by the Prime Minister not to change the Morrison-era laws, passed the Senate on Tuesday night.

Labor decided to change the Bill in January to give workers earning less than about $146,000 a bigger tax cut than previously planned, while cutting the expected return for higher earners.

Opposition finance spokeswoman Jane Hume told the Senate the Coalition would not oppose tax relief for Australians.

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“But that doesn’t mean we condone the mistruth that was told,” Senator Hume said, pointing to the government’s broken promise in altering the tax package.

The Greens, who sought to refer the legislation to committee, failed to get support for their proposal.

The Albanese government’s rejig of the stage 3 tax cuts retains the tax-free threshold at its current rate of $19,200, lowers the rate on income earned up to $45,000 to 16 per cent – down from 19 per cent – and lowers the rate of the $45,000 to $135,000 tax bracket to 30 per cent – down from 32.5 per cent.

Additionally, the 37 per cent tax bracket will be retained between $135,000 and $190,000, after which the top marginal tax rate will then kick in at $190,000 at a 45 per cent rate.

The overhaul usurps tax changes, introduced by the then-Morrison government in 2019, which would have created a single tax bracket between $45,000 and $180,000 at a rate of 30 per cent.

Despite offering additional relief to taxpayers under pressure from elevated interest rates and still-high inflation, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has failed to gain further support in opinion polls according to Newspoll and Resolve surveys.

Camera IconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese has had a win with the stage 3 tax cuts overhauled bill passing parliament. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Industry Minister Ed Husic has referenced George Costanza, the obnoxious, bumbling character from hit 90s sitcom Seinfeld, to take a jab at Opposition claims the government’s industrial policy is turning Australian manufacturing sector into a “graveyard”.

Mr Husic, speaking in Question Time on Tuesday, took offence to an January 16 opinion piece penned by Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley in The Australian in which she argued “Labor’s industrial policy vacuum” had delivered a steep rise in insolvencies.

“Just halfway into the 2023-24 financial year, 243 manufacturing businesses have already become insolvent,” she wrote.

“In 2021 across the same period this number was in the double digits.

Camera IconEd Husic during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“Alarmingly, today manufacturing insolvencies are about three times higher than the same period just two years ago … the tripling of insolvencies across Australian manufacturing businesses is the direct result of Albanese’s lack of an economic plan, failed industrial policies and distracted priorities.”

But on Tuesday, Mr Husic said Ms Ley’s claims were “not supported by fact.”

“No claim too outrageous,” he said.

“I don’t know if George Costanza has been hired as a special strategic adviser.

George Costanza, one of the main characters of the sitcom Seinfeld.
Camera IconGeorge Costanza, one of the main characters of the sitcom Seinfeld. Credit: Supplied

“You know, ‘it’s not a lie if you believe it’. Very much the case in terms of the deputy leader (Sussan Ley).”

In the Season 6 episode, Mr Costanza advises Jerry how to beat a polygraph test, telling him: “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie, if you believe it.”

The Opposition objected to Mr Husic’s Seinfeld reference and the Speaker Milton Dick asked Mr Husic to withdraw the remark, which the Minister did.

Mr Husic referenced the government’s $15bn National Reconstruction Fund as a signature policy to boost the country’s manufacturing sector.

“Australian manufacturing, alive and well, we’re backing it,” he said.

Camera IconDeputy Leader of the Opposition Sussan Ley has hit out at the government’s industrial policy. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

In her opinion piece, Ms Ley said the fund had yet to invest a “single cent” into Australian business.

Since the mid January critique, the government has appointed Ivan Power as CEO of the NRF.

The fund provides finance in the form of debt, equity and guarantees to support industrial projects.

Opposition pushes hard on vehicle fears Meanwhile, the Opposition continued its prosecution of the argument that the government’s fuel efficiency standards policy was pricing popular utes and vehicles out of reach of tradies and families.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine King said in reply to one of the questions that “no particular model will go up” in price.

“It feels a bit like Groundhog Day,” Ms King said.

“The same people that said that the minimum wage would wreck the economy, tax cuts for all Australians was Marxist economics and a war on hard-working Australians, the same people who said the weekend would be over and there would be no more barbecues for everybody.

“Instead of making claims that they know are false, those opposite need to explain why they think hard-working Australians should be denied access to cars that are cheaper to run.”

Camera IconTransport Minister Catherine King hit back at the Coalition during Question Time. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

In the Senate, opposition transport spokesperson Bridget McKenzie slammed the government over its recently proposed fuel efficiency standards, branding mooted pollution caps on light industrial and passenger vehicles as “Labor’s family car tax”.

Senator McKenzie cited analysis released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCA), which claims consumers would be forced to pay $25,000 extra for some popular car models.

The FCAI’s figures have been disputed by other automotive organisations, including the Electric Vehicle Council, which supports the standard.

But Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said the Coalition’s opposition to the vehicle emissions overhaul amounted to a “scare campaign”.

“It’s always about trying to drive fear and disunity against the need to make progress in relation to climate change,” Ms Gallagher said.

The finance minister said besides Russia, Australia was the only developed economy that did not have legislated fuel efficiency rules.

Albanese, Dutton play down Dunkley victory

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton have both played down their chances of electoral success in the crucial Dunkley by-election on Saturday.

The seat, on the Mornington Peninsula southeast of Melbourne, was vacated after the passing of former Labor member Peta Murphy who died in early December, aged 50.

At Saturday’s poll Mr Albanese’s pick, community leader and schoolteacher Jodie Beylea, will face off against three-time Frankston City Council mayor Nathan Conroy, who is the Liberal Party’s candidate.

Speaking to their respective parliamentary party rooms on Tuesday, Mr Albanese and Mr Dutton both watered down expectations of winning the seat, citing historical data which they claimed showed clinching victory would be a difficult task.

Camera IconWhile Labor is widely expected to retain the seat of Dunkley, the Prime Minister has hosed down expectations of victory on Saturday. NCA NewsWire / Nicki Connolly Credit: News Corp Australia

Labor is widely expected to retain the seat, which it holds by a two-party preferred margin of 6.3 per cent, while Coalition strategists expect it could secure a swing of between 3 and 4 per cent.

The electoral contest in Dunkley, which has a high proportion of heavily-indebted households borrowers, is seen as a crucial test for the Albanese government on its track record in alleviating current cost of living pressures.

Equally, Mr Dutton’s strategy for the next federal election, which is aimed at targeting similar outer-suburbia seats, will also be put to the test.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister slammed an advertisement authored by conservative political lobbying group Advance and published in the Herald Sun which claimed Mr Albanese had “unlocked the doors of immigration detention and let loose 149 criminals”, among them murderers, rapists and pedophiles.

Controversial Palestinian activist to be banned from Australia

A Palestinian political activist who labelled Hamas terrorists responsible for the bloody October 7 incursion in Israel as “freedom fighters” and hijacked two planes more than 50 years ago will be denied entry into Australia, Minister Katy Gallagher has confirmed.

Leila Khaled, a representative on the Palestine National Council, who was set to appear at the Ecosocialism 2024 event hosted by the Socialist Alliance and activist media outlet Green Left, will have any visa application blocked, Senator Gallagher told the Senate on Tuesday.

Leila Khaled, former militant and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, will not be allowed to enter Australia. Photo: Supplied
Camera IconLeila Khaled, former militant and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, will not be allowed to enter Australia. Photo: Supplied Credit: Supplied

“The government strongly condemns anyone who incites violence and hatred in our community,” Senator Gallagher said.

“Someone like that is not welcome in our country.”

While Senator Gallagher said she understood no visa application had been made thus far, she said the government would deny Ms Khaled’s application.

“I’d like to be very clear that anyone with this history will not be allowed into Australia,” she said.

Pay gender report not to ‘name and shame’

Greens senator Larissa Waters has called on the Albanese government to ”stop subsidising discrimination” and cancel Commonwealth grants and contracts with businesses that have reported significant gaps in remuneration between their male and female employees.

Senator Waters’ push follows the publication of new firm-level pay data by Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) on Tuesday, which showed significant disparities in remuneration between median male and female remuneration at many of Australia’s largest employers.

“Employers should be embarrassed into fixing their gender pay gap, but there is a role for government here too,” Ms Waters said. However, Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said the data was not designed to “name and shame” employers, and stopped short of endorsing the Greens’ proposal.

“We have not used the data from WGEA … to stop something else,” Ms Gallagher said, before citing the government’s existing work in overhauling procurement rules.

“I am working with [the] Finance [Department] on this issue through the Buy Australia Plan and other work that we’re doing to make sure that government, as a purchaser, is leading the way in delivering good, strong social and equitable outcomes.”

Canavan takes swipe at gender pay gap report

Nationals senator Matt Canavan has taken a swipe at the gender pay gap report, saying it makes young men feel “discriminated against”

Released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency on Tuesday, pay comparison data for all employers with 100 or more staff has demonstrated the stark split in workers’ pay packets between men and women.

Nationally, the median male worker makes $96,945 while the median female worker earns 19 per cent less at $78,484.

Senator Canavan said the report was flawed and became “recruitment drives” for anti-women social media identities such as Andrew Tate.

“People, young men in particular, feel like they are now being discriminated against and that’s why they’re coming to watch the likes of Andrew Tate in droves.”

Camera IconSenators David Pocock and Matt Canavan got an early morning hitout in before parliament started. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconQueensland Senator Matt Canavan and Senator David Pocock during a touch rugby match with Members and Senators. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese countered Senator Canavan’s comments, and called on coalition MPs to pull him into line and to pass the stage three tax cuts Bill through to help more women.

“So while some of them are out there saying this is a good thing and even claiming credit for it, others are out there saying it is completely useless,” the PM said in Question Time.

“Well, Mr Speaker, what the Senate can do with the support of the Liberals and the greens is to vote for these tax cuts

and vote for them today.

“Vote for people to earn more and to keep more of what they earn, not stand in the way like the Liberals and the Greens want to do in the Senate because this is what Australians deserve to deal with cost-of-living pressures.

Earlier, the Queensland senator joined ex-Wallabies captain turned Independent Senator David Pocock and former union rugby stars and federal colleagues for what looked like a rough touch footy match ahead of a busy parliamentary sitting day. 

Scott Morrison to deliver farewell speech

Scott Morrison will warn against a “drift of secularism” and encourage Australians to reconnect with traditional Christian values in his final speech as a federal politician.

The former prime minister will on Tuesday deliver his valedictory speech to parliament after announcing his retirement in January.

Mr Morrison, who served as Australia’s 30th prime minister from 2018 to 2020, is expected to reflect on his 16-year political career rather than defend his controversial legacy.

He will also use his farewell to urge for people to unite to “stand with Israel as we stand with Ukraine” and alert against authoritarianism in China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

Camera IconScott Morrison will deliver what is expected to be his final speech. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“One does not need to share my faith to appreciate the virtue of human rights, and nor am I suggesting that,” he told The Australian.

“But equally, we should be careful about diminishing the influence and voice of Judaeo-Christian faith in our Western society, as doing so risks our society drifting into a valueless void.

Upon leaving parliament at the end of the month, Mr Morrison is expected to join US consulting firm American Global Strategies and AUKUS investor DYNE Maritime, alongside former US secretary of state and ex-CIA director Mike Pompeo.

He will also a publish a book titled “Plans For Your Good: A Prime Minister’s Testimony of God’s Faithfulness” in May.

Camera IconAnthony Albanese wished Mr Morrison ‘all the best’. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

PM brushes off poll concern

Anthony Albanese says he is confident Labor will emerge victorious at Saturday’s Dunkley by-election despite new polls showing a dip in support for the government.

The latest Newspoll found Labor’s primary vote had fallen to 33 per cent to the Coalition’s 36 per cent, with a Resolve poll in Nine newspapers showing similar results, with the Liberals on 37 and Labor on 34.

Speaking to ABC Radio Melbourne, Mr Albanese said by-elections were normally “tough”, but he remained hopeful his candidate would succeed.

“I think we go into it with the right candidate in Jodie Belyea … she’s not a career politician, she’s someone who’s been involved in helping disadvantaged women,” he said.

“We know it’s tough but we’re out there putting the case and we’re also saying that Peter Dutton’s got nothing to offer.”

Asked if Labor had any new cost-of living measures up its sleeve ahead of the May budget, specifically relief for pensioners, Mr Albanese argued that older Australians had benefited “greatly” from his cheaper medicines policy and an increase to JobSeeker that came in last year.

“We certainly are working on everything we can do to address cost-of-living pressures, particularly aimed at lower and middle income earners, and that’s why we did the tax cuts and all these other measures,” he said.

Mr Albanese also touched on Mr Morrison’s imminent exit from federal parliament.

“I think he had the great honour of being the 30th prime minister of Australia,” he said.

“It’s a tough job and I certainly respect the office. On a personal level, I wish him and his family all of the best.”

Ban on Aussie wine to be lifted 

China’s restrictions on Australian wine is due to be lifted next month, in a significant step likely flush billions of dollars back into the economy and offer reprieve to struggling winemakers.

Trade Minister Don Farrell met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao on the sidelines of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi this week.

Trade Minister Don Farrell meets with China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao in Abu Dhabi. Picture: Supplied
Camera IconTrade Minister Don Farrell meets with China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao in Abu Dhabi. Supplied Credit: Supplied

It comes after China agreed to lift the 80 per cent tariff it had imposed on barley from Australia in August last year.

China blocked imports of Australian products including wine, coal, timber and barley in 2020 after former prime minister Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of Covid-19.

The tax on Australian bottled wine saw a trade worth $898 million in 2020 fall to just $8.1 million in the year to June 2023.

After high-level talks, it’s expected China will lift its 218 per cent tax imposed on most Australian wine in April 2020, which effectively brought an export flow worth more than $1bn per year to a shuddering halt.

It will also mark a significant thawing of relations between the two countries following Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s visit to Beijing last year.

Albo faces bruising housing stalemate

Housing Minister Julie Collins says Labor will refuse to make changes to its signature housing policy in return for support from the Greens, setting up the stage for a major senate standoff.

The Greens are threatening to revoke their support for Labor’s Help to Buy scheme unless the government agrees to wind back negative gearing and capital gains tax. 

The $329m Help to Buy scheme was a centrepiece of Labor’s election campaign and will require backing from the Greens to pass if it’s likely opposed by the Coalition in the Senate.

The shared equity scheme, which would allow 40,000 first home buyers over five years the chance to co-purchase their home with the government for as little as a two per cent deposit, will be voted on in the this week.

Camera IconJulie Collins said Labor wouldn’t bend to the Greens’ demands. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Collins made it clear that Labor wouldn’t strike a deal with the minor party.

“Frankly, I’m surprised that any politician is opposing more Australians into home ownership. Particularly when there’s evidence that these programs have worked in the past and have a national program for this is a good idea,” she said.

Post-war Gaza shouldn’t tolerate ‘terrorism’: Birmingham

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham has welcomed the news of the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

Mr Shtayyeh, who heads the Palestinian Authority that controls roughly 40 per cent of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, reportedly handed in his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday.

Speaking to Sky, Senator Birmingham said he was hopeful that a change in government would help to initiate a path of “peace and security” in Palestine.

Camera IconShadow foreign minister Simon Birmingham has welcomed the resignation of the Palestinian PM. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“Israel needs to have confidence that those who are stepping up as leaders within the Palestinian community and offering governance will do so in an environment that promotes security, that in no way tolerates terrorism or supports those who promote extremist views,” he said.

Currently, the death toll in Gaza has risen to at least 29,606 Palestinians since the Israel-Hamas conflict began in October, according to the Hamas-controlled health authorities.

The revised death toll in Israel from the October 7 attacks stands at 1,139.

Originally published as The Senate has passed the government’s revamped stage 3 tax cuts just days before the Dunkley by-election

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