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Australia: Govt set to pass $158bn tax cut plan as it secures crossbench support

CANBERRA (Australia): The Australian Government has secured enough crossbench support to pass all three stages of its $158 billion income tax cut plan from the parliament.

A senator from Tasmanian, Jacqui Lambie, said that she would be voting for the package when it is introduced into the Senate later today.

Senator Lambie had demanded more support for social housing in Tasmania ahead of the vote.

She told the ABC that she decided to support the tax cuts pan after the Government offered a willingness to address her concerns

“We’re still dealing [in] good faith and I look forward to that over the next four to six weeks,” Senator Lambie said.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who leads the Coalition in the Senate, said he had had “very good discussions” with Senator Lambie and the crossbench but would not be drawn on what they had agreed to.

“Those issues have got to be dealt with on their own merits,” he said. “Today is about tax cuts.”

The newly elected Tasmanian senator said people were “doing it tough” and she wanted the Federal Government to waive her state’s $157 million social housing debt.

“Tasmania is paying 50 cents in every dollar of our state housing budget back to the Federal Government in interest and debt repayments,” Senator Lambie said.

“That means we are building half as many homes, helping half as many people.

“Tasmanian families are sleeping in cars, parks and tents — all in the dead of winter — 3,000 Tasmanians are on the housing waiting list.”

Senator Cormann said the Government was “always happy to engage” with senators on issues of concern to them.

“We have not engaged in horse-trading,” he said.

“What we have done is we have persuaded four crossbench senators to support the Government’s key economic reform.