Controversial Greens senator calls on Australia to wipe university students’ HECS debt instead of cutting taxes for wealthy Australians
- Senator Mehreen Faruqi has called for cancellation of Australian student debt
- Ms Faruqi recently faced backlash for ‘insensitive’ comments about the Queen
- She said money earmarked for Stage Three tax cuts could be put to better use
- Critics of planned 2024 tax cuts say they will largely favor the wealthy
- Queen’s funeral: All the latest news and coverage from the royal family
A Greens senator has called on the Australian government to scrap student loans rather than spend billions on tax cuts for wealthy Australians.
Deputy party leader Mehreen Faruqi – who was recently criticized for an “appalling” tweet about the Queen and imperialism – tweeted on Sunday that Australians were grappling with “skyrocketing” costs of living and housing.
Senator Faruqi said, “It’s time to give people relief by wiping out student debt.”
The tax cuts, due to be enacted in 2024, are the third stage of a tax plan by the previous coalition government that critics say will cost up to $243 billion and will mostly favor the wealthy.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has pledged to keep tax cuts – a campaign promise.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi (pictured) wants some of the money earmarked for the third stage of tax cuts due in 2024 to be used instead to clear student debt
Critics including Ms Faruqi say tax cuts will favor the rich and promote inequality
The Stage Three tax cuts would eliminate an entire tax bracket and impose a flat tax rate of 30 cents on the dollar on workers earning between $40,000 and $200,000.
Senator Faruqi’s comments are part of a push by the Greens to use the money instead to clear the HECS and HELP debts of more than 2.9million Australians at a supposedly lower cost of $60.7billion over the next decade.
Ms Faruqi says the tax cuts will ‘further entrench inequality’ and that ‘we should cancel student debt to reduce the inequality gap’.
“Many current MPs, including the Prime Minister, went to college when it was free, but now students are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt that often takes decades to pay off. “, she said.
“Abolition of all student debt will have huge positive impacts for millions of people who can afford to live a better life.”
The Greens point to analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office which shows that tax cuts would benefit high earners and, because of the gender pay gap, men.
A worker with $72,235 would get a tax cut of $681 and a worker with $200,000 would get a tax benefit of $9,000, according to estimates from left-wing think tank Australia Institute.
There are more than three million Australians with unpaid university debts (file image)
Senator Faruqi has come under fire for her comments following the Queen’s death earlier this month.
‘Condolences to those who knew the Queen. I cannot mourn the leader of a racist empire built on stolen lives, land and wealth of colonized people,’ the senator tweeted.
“We are reminded of the urgency of a treaty with the First Nations, justice and reparations for the British colonies and becoming a republic.”
The tweet drew hundreds of mixed comments and prompted One Nation leader Pauline Hanson to launch a racist attack on Ms Faruqi, telling her to ‘go back to Pakistan’.
Senator Faruqi has signaled that she may file a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission over the attack.
THIRD STAGE OF TAX CUTS
* Remove tax bracket from $120,000 to $180,000
* Increase the upper tax bracket threshold from $180,000 to $200,000
* Reduce the marginal tax rate faced by tax brackets from $45,000 to $200,000 from 32.5% to 30%.
* The changes will create a flat tax rate of 30c in the dollar for anyone earning between $40,000 and $200,000
* Tax cuts will cost $243.5 billion
* Of this amount, 6% will go to the richest 1% of employees and 77% will go to the richest 25%.
Source: Parliamentary Budget Office