Federal tax cuts will cost Tasmania millions every year (The Mercury Talking Point, 28/06/19)

Boost economy by helping low-income earners; don’t hurt us with tax cuts, says Kym Goodes.

WHILE political commentators may be talking about tax cuts and the return of Federal Parliament next week, Tasmanians are talking about whether their family, friends and neighbours will have a roof over their heads.

They are talking about whether their hospital can provide the care needed to a loved one if they need to get emergency treatment. And they are talking about whether older Tasmanians can access a Home Care Package so they can get the support they need to stay in their own home. That’s what we do here in Tasmania. We look out for each other. The public outcry and incredible community support for those doing it tough and struggling to find a place to call home is a demonstration of the caring community we live in. People are offering their homes and other personal resources. Acts of love and kindness. Humanity.

The Mercury has led a strong and consistent campaign, and the community has risen to the challenge. Tasmanians across the political divide have sent a strong message to our decision-makers.

We’ve also heard a strong response from Tasmanians who don’t feel their political representatives are acting in the best interests of Tasmania.

So what would Tasmanians want to tell our political masters in Canberra about our priorities? Amid all the talk of tax cuts out of Canberra, we must ask, “What is in it for Tasmanians — will we be left better or worse off?”

Overall, the Federal Government’s proposed tax cut package mostly benefits people on higher incomes. This means people living in inner city Sydney and Melbourne would receive the most, while areas that benefit the least are in rural Tasmania. In fact, the electorate of Sydney would receive more out of the tax cut package than the whole state of Tasmania. But the drain on the federal purse will be felt by us all.

Stage 3 is the most expensive and benefits highincome earners. It would mean that people on $200,000 a year would receive $11,000 back a year. This only applies to a handful of people in Tasmania — 88 per cent of us earn less than $80,000 a year.

In fact, there are nearly as many people on the public housing waiting list in Tasmania as there are people earning $200,000 per year.

If the Stage 3 tax cuts go ahead, we would lose as an Australian community $12 billion a year — this is money that could be spent on essential services that we all rely on. Low and middleincome earners would end up paying the price in the form of funding cuts to services, such as our hospitals, schools and community programs.

Tasmanians depend on core programs and services that are in part funded through a strong federal tax base. Poorly targeted tax cuts for people on the highest incomes will lessen the Government’s ability to take action when and where needed.

Our state’s housing and homelessness crisis lays the issue bare: Tasmanians need the Federal Government to invest more in social and affordable housing, not less.

It’s about priorities. When the majority of Tasmanians are struggling to pay even the most basic of expenses, is it really the time to be handing out thousands of dollars in tax cuts to people on high incomes?

The best way to stimulate the economy is to get money into the hands of people on low incomes. These are the people who have no choice but to spend on the basics straight away, which will get money flowing into the economy. People on high incomes are far more likely to save extra income, which won’t help the current state of the economy.

That is why the Stage 1 tax cuts, which are better targeted to people who need support, are more effective. When Tasmanians pay tax it is not that different from when we offer our hand to help those desperate for somewhere to live. It’s an act of love, of kindness, of humanity.

That’s why we pay tax — for each other, for our families, our friends, our neighbours, our community. It’s the right thing to do. It supports all of us to live a good life.

Those who we elect to represent us in Canberra should ensure they act in the best interests of Tasmania. And our best interests are not served when priorities focus on benefits to inner city Sydney and Melbourne at the expense of essential services our state desperately needs.

Tasmanians expect their federal elected representatives to be fair-minded. That means opposing the Government’s tax cuts for high-income earners when Federal Parliament resumes next week. It is in Tasmania’s best interest.

Kym Goodes is chief executive of the Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TasCOSS).