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Question Time: Windfall Gas Tax for Dental Into Medicare

On Monday 1 August 2022, I asked the Treasurer if the government was considering placing a windfall tax on soaring gas profits to fund universal services like bringing dental into Medicare. You can read the full transcript below.

E WATSON-BROWN: My question is to the Treasurer. We are in a wage and cost-of-living crisis, but corporations are making record profits and the gas corporations are gouging us all. In the upcoming budget, will you place a windfall tax on these excess profits to invest in universal services like getting dental into Medicare and bringing down the cost of living for everyone?

J CHALMERS: I thank the member for Ryan for her question and I congratulate her once again on her election to this place. It's not the government's intention to apply a windfall tax to the gas companies. Obviously we listen respectfully to the views that are put to us from right around the country about the best ways to deal with these cost-of-living pressures, a big part of which are skyrocketing energy costs. We listen respectfully to the proposals that are put to us but we are not currently working up a windfall tax or anything that looks like that as we deal with the complex combination of economic circumstances that we have inherited as a new government.

We do have a policy on multinational taxes, which is part of making sure that multinationals pay their fair share of tax here in Australia so that we can invest that money in some of those areas that the member for Ryan is right to identify, whether it be Medicare, whether it be child care or whether it be investments in education and skills, all of these important areas. One of our defining tasks as a government that we have embraced, the finance minister and I, indeed the whole cabinet, the whole party room, is: How do we take money which has been spent on unproductive purposes for a political dividend and redirect that money in the interests of the Australian people into areas which do deliver a social dividend and an economic dividend as well? As the creators of Medicare—as the creators of so many of these programs that we cherish—we are looking for ways to more responsibly fund those priorities.

When it comes to the energy market in particular, we have said today—indeed, the Minister for Resources has said today, and others, like the Prime Minister, have said today—our focus in the energy market is on security and affordability, some of the issues which have been raised by the ACCC in the report that I released overnight, which go to making sure that Australians can access the energy that they need at affordable prices. That's a big reason why inflation is what it is: energy prices are going through the roof. We're conscious of that, and we're working to ensure that we can responsibly address that. But the proposal that the member for Ryan has respectfully put to us is, respectfully, not a path that we are going down.

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