The ABC’s current affairs panel show QandA had a Darryl Kerrigan/Castle moment last night thanks to Duncan, a dad who says he’s been on the minimum wage all his life.
Duncan Storrar’s question to the panel last night appeared symbolic of the issues the Coalition and Labor parties are campaigning on. It has everyone talking today, especially when assistant treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer attempted to explain the benefits of a $6000 toaster to the Aussie battler.
O’Dwyer, also small business minister, sat on the panel with Green Adam Bandt, Labor’s Andrew Leigh, Australian Industry Group CEO Innes Willox, and Australian Council of Social Services boss Cassandra Goldie.
Storrar’s question to O’Dwyer, about the Budget measure lifting the tax threshold for people earning over $80,000, was direct enough.
“I’ve got a disability and a low education, that means I’ve spent my whole life working for minimum wage. You’re gonna lift the tax-free threshold for rich people,” he said.
“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’. Rich people don’t even notice their tax-free threshold lift. Why don’t I get it? Why do they get it?”
The small business minister avoided the question. When host Tony Jones attempted to steer O’Dwyer back to it, she replied “It’s not correct to say we have provided a tax cut to the top taxpayers”, pointing out that people who earned less than $80,000 continued to have carbon tax compensation and it was “all about balance.”
Brandt argued that was $4 billion for the top 25% of taxpayers to get a $6 tax cut would be better spent “making Australia more equal”.
Storrar continued to prosecute his case in such a dignified fashion that when he called the minister “love”, it sounded so typically Australian rather than patronising.
To “rich people” the tax break was “a Coke and a milkshake”, he said, but if it came his way “it changes my children’s life” worth $7000.
“Low income earners lose more money paying tax,” Storrar argued, while people on $80,000 “don’t even notice it, love. We notice that sort of stuff, eh.”
The minister began a vigorous explanation of how the Turnbull government was focussed on “growing the pie”, while the Greens just wanted to cut smaller slices for everyone and talked about small business tax cuts delivering more jobs.
After a diversion into trickle-down economics, business boss Innes Willox decided to stage an intervention that may result in a thank you card from Bill Shorten.
“Duncan, I’ll be harsh in my message: If you’re on the minimum wage and with a family, you would not pay much tax, if any at all,” he said. “Would you? You would not pay much tax.”
Storrar did not blink.
“I pay tax every time I go to the supermarket. Every time I hop in my car,” Storrar replied.
“As does everyone else,” Willox retorted, adding that “not everyone can win out of every budget every time.”
He pressed on, saying “It’s not how the system works and the government has made a choice here – I’ll talk on their behalf even though I’m not a member of the government – they have actually made a choice to create a situation where we can create jobs for Duncan’s children, where we can create investment that doesn’t come into the country now, to provide for growth.”
O’Dwyer then put on her small business hat with an anecdote of a cafe owner who wants to buy a $6000 toaster, because toast is currently a weekend bottleneck in the business.
The $6000 toaster will lead to more jobs in the cafe, the minister said, thanks to the Turnbull government’s policies.
But her message was lost on an electorate suddenly transfixed by the notion of a $6000 toaster.
Twitter quickly dubbed it the “Toorak toaster”, launching a search, amid countless jokes, for the beast.
Fairfax Media thinks it found the machine, which is capable of producing 1000 slices of toast per hour.
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