Pauline Hanson’s surprising revelation
Pauline Hanson says the Federal Government has not yet approached her to seek support for its full $158 billion package of income tax cuts.
That package was the centrepiece of Scott Morrison's re-election campaign, and passing it will be his highest priority when parliament meets in a fortnight.
Labor might decide to wave the 10-year tax plan through in full, making Ms Hanson's position on the issue irrelevant. But should Labor oppose it, the Government will find itself relying on her vote.
That complicates matters.
The Prime Minister has rejected calls to break his tax legislation into pieces, which would allow parliament to separately accept or reject each of the plan's three stages. He wants the whole thing passed at once.
Meanwhile, Ms Hanson has indicated she does not support the third and final stage of the plan, saying the Government would be better off focusing on coal, infrastructure and water spending.
"I think there are more important issues out there that are of concern to the Australian people," she said a week ago.
“People are struggling, struggling to pay the bills, struggling to get through from day to day… they need the cash now.” @tomrehn9 on Labor supporting the first wave of proposed tax cuts. #9Today pic.twitter.com/a8AuBhxKPp— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) June 16, 2019
The One Nation leader reinforced that message on Channel 9's Today program this morning when host Deborah Knight asked whether she would support the tax plan.
"In full? No, I won't be, Deb. I won't be," Ms Hanson said.
"Actually, I haven't been approached by Mathias Cormann, there have been no negotiations that have gone on. I haven't spoken to the Prime Minister. And my office had a meeting with the Treasury last Friday to discuss the tax cuts.
"We can either go with the tax cuts or we can go with infrastructure projects which will do exactly the same. At the end of the day, we are going to end up with infrastructure that will deliver us cheaper electricity, security and also the water security that we need for the country."
The Government's proposed tax cuts do carry a significant opportunity cost. The first stage is projected to cost the federal budget $15 billion over the next decade. That figure rises to $48 billion for the second stage and $95 billion for stage three.
If this situation feels familiar, that's because it has essentially played out the same way before. Last year, Ms Hanson said she was opposed to the final stage of the Government's (earlier) income tax cuts but was eventually convinced to vote for them.
She also changed her position on company tax cuts several times before rejecting them.
"I haven't flip-flopped. I said no originally, then I said yes, then I have said no and I have stuck to it," she said afterwards.
The Government needs 39 votes in the Senate to pass this batch of tax cuts and appears to have 35 sewn up.
Two more could come from Centre Alliance senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff who say they will support the first two stages and are considering the third.
That leaves Mr Morrison needing two votes from One Nation.
Ms Hanson addressed other issues during her live cross this morning, though not before answering the question most viewers were wondering - why on earth was she doing it in the middle of a cemetery, of all places?
"Pauline, you're in a cemetery in Rockhampton this morning … why?" Knight asked.
"Deb, I find cemeteries fascinating to start with, but I think that it makes me look back on where the country - what it was like and where we've come from," Ms Hanson said.
"These people here, most people, there's a grave right in front of me 110 years old. These people have been through depressions, recessions, wars, hardships that Australians will never ever come across in their life.
"I think what's happened to this country all comes down to the decisions of politicians, and I'm a politician. So the decisions that I make, you know, it's all about the future generations, and we have to get it right."
Ms Hanson went on to discuss her problems with Australia's education system, saying the country needed better teachers.
"They have been pushing these people onto the education system and then onto university to become teachers, and they can't read or write themselves adequately to be in the classroom to teach our kids. The problem starts and stops there," she said.
The One Nation leader also weighed in on the AFL's controversial crowd control tactics.
"Security officers have been removing fans who have been cheering or shouting in what they considered an inappropriate manner at Marvel Stadium. What is going on with the world here Pauline?" Knight asked.
"What a load of absolute rubbish. You can't do the wave anymore, you're controlled. So they want to intimidate these people, who won't say 'boo', we have the boo police out there," Ms Hanson said.
"But the criminals, everyone else will go and do what they want to do. There is no fear in our society anymore, only if you are innocent people trying to do the right thing.
"I tell you what, if I go to the next State of Origin and I get a little bit excited, and they want to try to throw me out, go for it mate, because I tell you what, you will have a lot of bloody trouble."