A self-described Aussie battler on the minimum wage has gone head-to-head with the Q&A panel on proposed changes to the personal income tax threshold.
In the panel show’s first episode since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull kicked off an eight-week election campaign, politicians and the public crossed paths on matters of tax, climate change and the economy.
Duncan Storrar, who introduced himself as a man with a “disability and a low education”, criticised the government’s budget proposal to lift the tax-free threshold for middle-income earners.
“You’re gonna lift the tax-free threshold for rich people. If you lift my tax-free threshold, that changes my life. That means that I get to say to my little girls, ‘daddy’s not broke this weekend. We can go to the pictures’,” he said.
“Rich people don’t even notice their tax-free threshold lift. Why don’t I get it? Why do they get it?”
Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer disputed his claim, saying the top earners had not received a tax cut – it was middle earners on up to $87,000 a year.
Greens Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt described it as a “sandwich and milkshake tax without the milkshake” – the small difference in tax return might not mean much for middle-income earners, but it was a lot to those on lower wages.
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie agreed: “You [Duncan] so clearly pointed out the value of money differs according to how much of it you’ve got.”
Ms O’Dwyer said this thinking would not grow the economy, but would “redistribute the pie into ever-more smaller slices”.
“We want to grow the economy, we want to create more jobs,” the Minister said.
“We want to give people an incentive to work, to invest in their businesses and to employ people and create better lives for themselves.”
She provided an example of the pie redistribution – a “$6000 toaster” for a cafe owner – drawing ridicule from Q&A viewers.
Australian Industry Group CEO Innes Willox questioned if Mr Storrar, as a minimum wage earner, was even paying tax. Mr Storrar replied: “I pay tax every time I go to the supermarket. Every time I hop in my car.”
Mr Storrar gained support online.
‘LNP running scared of climate change’: Bandt
Greens Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt attacked the Coalition’s budget speech and accused Mr Turnbull of pandering to climate deniers in his party.
“Go through the whole Budget speech – I know the Treasurer gave it, the PM had a hand – no mention of climate change,” he said.
Ms O’Dwyer said although Mr Turnbull’s views were known, they were not the “view of all our party”. She added they had an “ambitious target” for 2030 emissions reductions.
Mr Willox said the “squabbling over climate policy” had to stop.
As a member of a business, union and community group climate change roundtable, he said we needed “principled outcomes”.
“No matter what we do, we aren’t huge emitters in a global sense but we do have a role to play and we want a debate that works for everyone.”
See more of the debate below
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) May 9, 2016
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) May 9, 2016