Full Income Tax Package Passes Parliament
Many Australians lodging their tax returns over the next few weeks will find themselves more than $1000 richer after parliament passed the Morrison government's signature tax cut package.
The government secured the crossbench support it needed to pass the $158 billion plan unchanged through the Senate on Thursday evening.
The first stage of the tax plan will deliver up to $1080 to low and middle-income earners when they lodge their tax returns for 2018/19.
The second stage delivers a 19 per cent tax rate from 2022/23 to people earning up to $45,000.
The final stage due in 2024/25 flattens the tax rate to 30 per cent for people earning between $45,000 and $200,000.
Labor tried in vain to amend the bill to strip out the third stage and deliver the second stage sooner.
But the opposition voted in favour of the legislation, which passed 56 votes to nine, arguing it wouldn't oppose tax cuts for workers.
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie backed the full package in return for action on Tasmania's homelessness crisis.
She wants Tasmania's $157 million public housing debt be wiped or renegotiated, but is still ironing out a deal after supporting the cuts "in good faith".
"I need those kids and their families off the streets in warm houses," she told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
"I'm not sitting around on this for another four or five weeks while we play argy-bargy."
Centre Alliance - which carries two Senate votes - also backed the full package after the government listened to its thoughts on how policy on gas prices should be shaped.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government would deal with both the gas and Tasmanian housing issues "in good time".
The gas industry is seeking clarity from the government, urging the coalition to reveal exactly what it has agreed with Centre Alliance.
Former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi had always backed the full package, giving the government the four crossbench votes needed to pass its legislation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison lashed out at Labor for opposing the full plan, saying they had learned nothing from the election result.
"Why do they cling to this outdated and moribund view that says you have to tax Australians more to grow the economy?" he told parliament.
"What is it about higher taxes that the Labor Party so obsessed with, that means they remain shackled to this view of the world?"
Labor waved the plan through after its amendments failed following an agreement in shadow cabinet on Thursday afternoon.
"We do not want the circumstances whereby an economy that is struggling prevents people getting a tax benefit of up to ... $1080," Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told reporters.
"The economy needs that, the economy needs that now."
Labor will review its position on the third stage of the plan closer to the next election in three years' time.
Senator Lambie said she still held grave concerns about this section of the plan, which will flatten the tax rate to 30 per cent for people earning between $45,000 and $200,000.
"If they were brought forward right now and we were doing it, this probably wouldn't be the same decision," she said.
"I'm sure from public perception and whatever else when it gets to that, if we just do not have the money to do that then that bill will have to go wayside."