Extract from Adam Bandt’s remarks to the National Green Conference
Australian Green MPs
Everyone assumes that 2021 will be an election year and that the Greens are no different. Working closely with the party, our team is impatient and ready to go. Your work on politics at previous conferences and again this weekend goes a long way in preparing the party for a campaign.
The next election will be incredibly close. After the redistributions in Western Australia and Victoria, which are expected to disadvantage the Coalition, the election campaign will begin – in fact – with a minority parliament. With the prospect of increasing our Senate seats to become the largest third party in the Senate of all time, it is very likely that the Greens will find themselves in a shared balance of power in both houses of Parliament, as we were. in 2010.
So I want to start sharing our strategy with you. Later in the year, we will share our target seats and our electoral plan to achieve the goals I set for myself when I became leader of dissolving the government, balancing the Greens and implementing a Green New Deal.
Today I want to talk about the issues we will be fighting over, the issues that will increase our representation in Parliament, and the kinds of issues we will be putting on the table in what will almost certainly be a power-sharing parliament. .
We will not be a small target this election.
We will fight to get the Morrison government out, but with a plan that tackles the long-term issues we face.
People don’t just want someone who is on their side, they want someone who will stand up for their future.
As they return to the trickle-down economy and brag about their fiscal conservatism, both Liberals and Labor have decided not to offer big, detailed visions of Australia’s future. We will be happy to enter the space they have freed.
We are in a climate emergency and we want to make the next elections a referendum on climate change. Because this election is crucial for the future of Australia and the world. And because time is running out. We will go to this election as the only party with a plan to phase out coal and gas over time that science demands. In any power-shared parliament, that will be on the table, as you might expect.
But we also want to make the next election a referendum on inequalities by facing billionaires and big companies.
Just before the pandemic, Liberals and Labor passed the horrific ‘tax cuts for millionaires’ that will cost the budget $ 325 billion over the next decade, putting $ 189 billion in the pockets of the 20 Richest% and only 0.1% for the poorest 20%. .
Before the pandemic, Australia’s workers’ share of income had fallen to its lowest level in history, while corporate profits hit record levels.
Since then, the pandemic has not only affected our health and our freedom of movement. The pandemic has worsened inequalities.
Today, two million people either have no or not enough work, and the situation will worsen when JobKeeper is taken down in March. Workers who have jobs have not expected a pay rise for years.
But while everyone is in pain, billionaires and big business behave like bandits.
Billionaires and big business
AFR’s Rich List, an annual celebration of Australia’s 200 richest people and families, shows billionaire wealth rose 25% during the pandemic to a record high of $ 357 billion. The poor had only $ 267 billion in wealth between them before the pandemic.
According to our analysis of the Australian Financial Review list, there were 48 more billionaires in 2020 than there were just three years earlier – just before the number of billionaires doubled in the last three. years. Not only are their wealth increasing rapidly, but like sugarcane toads, they also multiply uncontrollably.
It’s not just a problem in Australia. Worldwide, the wealth of billionaires increased by US $ 3.9 trillion during the pandemic. Relatively speaking, according to Bloomberg, Australian billionaires Gina Reinhart and Twiggy Forrest increased their wealth even more than the richest of the rich – Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. A depressing achievement for Australia.
Many of these billionaires are also the same people who profit from the destruction of our planet by coal. Gina Reinhart, Clive Palmer and Ivan Glasenberg. Then there are overseas billionaires, Czech billionaires like Pavel Tykac who owns two of Queensland’s coal plants, Hong Kong billionaire Michael Kadoorie who owns Australia’s dirtiest power plant Yallourn and a another in NSW and another billionaire from Hong Kong Henry Cheng who owns Loy Yang B and Alinta, another company that pays no tax.
While we were locked up, the billionaires got richer from us. As we try to stop the climate crisis, billionaires are making it worse. While we pay taxes, billionaires receive donations.
Meanwhile, 1 in 3 large corporations pay no tax, including many in the fossil fuel industry, with the Australian Tax Office designating the oil and gas industry as – and I’m quoting the ATO here – “no- systemic tax payers ”.
While everyone deals with rising public tuition fees and the high costs of going to the dentist, the big companies pay no taxes and send their profits overseas.
But not only are they tax evaders, the government is now giving them additional public funds!
We have proposed amendments in Parliament to prevent JobMaker hiring credits from going to large profitable dividend-paying companies, but Labor – despite all their boast about this issue – joined the Liberals in voting against , keeping the money towards the big companies.
Scott Morrison outsourced the recovery and the last budget contained $ 99 billion a year in grants to big business and the very rich public money that Labor circulated.
And just this week, the government is looking to give Energy Minister Angus Taylor the power to plunder Clean Energy Finance and divert billions of dollars – billions – to big gas companies.
There are big companies making super profits and it’s time to give something back.
State sanctioned corruption
Politics works for billionaires and big business. It doesn’t work for ordinary people.
The government should recover from the pandemic by addressing the long-term issues facing our country and investing in nation-building and planet-saving projects.
But that’s not happening, as Labor and Liberals are taking money from billionaires and big business causing the same problems.
These companies are making super profits amplifying the climate crisis, shipping most of their profits overseas tax-free, and keeping the main parties drip-fed.
The formula is the same for companies that have benefited from the Labor and Liberal privatization program. These companies like Transurban, Sydney Airport Ltd and Energy Australia have donated more to corrupt political parties than they pay in taxes.
It is state sanctioned corruption.
We want to make the next election a referendum on climate change and inequality, but also on the fact that Liberals and Labor will not act on big issues because they take money from billionaires and big business .
We will seek to point out at every opportunity that establishment parties take political donations from big business and billionaires and that is why they are unwilling to end corporate donations, tackle the climate crisis and invest in public services.
This week, we called on the Liberal and Labor parties to reject future donations from Crown Casinos and instead provide the almost $ 2 million in donations they received from Crown to a charity. They said no, they prefer to keep the money.
This will be our model of action between now and the election. Whenever a scandal arises involving a billionaire or a large corporation, we will highlight their donations to establishment parties. And every time the Liberals and Labor say they have to be ‘financially conservative’ and can’t get into dental health insurance, lift the job seeker, or guarantee everyone a job, we demand that billionaires and big business pay their fair share of taxes.
Voters are not stupid.
They can connect the dots between donations and the political benefits that flow from them.
Our electoral proposal for the people is therefore simple.
It’s time for billionaires and big business to pay their fair share.
Put the Greens in the balance of power, and we’ll make billionaires and big business pay a little more so you pay a lot less.
And the Greens are the only ones who can solve the problem, because only we are not taking the money from the big companies and billionaires who are causing the problem.
In the coming months, we’ll be presenting a series of policies that will seek to transfer some of the wealth of billionaires and big business to everyday Australians with investments in genuinely free education, our public health system and actions. to protect the environment, creating jobs along the way. .
Our goal will be full employment, and by forcing billionaires and big business to pay their fair share, we can get there.
By forcing big corporations and billionaires to pay a little more, everyone can pay a little less for the essential services they rely on.
A way forward
We are convinced that if we can start a debate on the extreme wealth of billionaires and the super-profits of big business, voters will respond, rally and vote for action.
A recent poll commissioned by the Australian Greens shows just how strong support is for action against billionaires and big business. A variety of questions were asked and the majority were in most cases in favor of closing tax loopholes and increasing taxes on the very rich and large corporations.
I don’t have time to describe everything here, but I’ll give you an example.
“Are you more or less likely to vote for a party that campaigns to raise taxes on big business and billionaires to fully fund health, education and other services?”
61% of voters said they were more likely and only 8% said they were less.
These policies are not only the right thing to do, they are also extremely popular among all Australians, and especially young people who are considering voting green.
This is the direction we will take this year as we fight for a future for all of us.