FEDERAL Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon has defended a new year’s resolution to be ‘‘less tolerant to minority groups’’ he said were threatening the region’s economy.
The resolution published in Monday's Newcastle Herald ‘‘shocked and disappointed’’ former Maitland Greens councillor John Brown.
The Bolwarra resident said he advocates more tolerance, not less, given the problems facing the world.
But Mr Fitzgibbon stuck to his guns, saying the Greens had a ‘‘default position of saying ‘no’ to everything’’.
He also criticised the acting federal Greens leader Adam Bandt over his call for higher taxes on millionaires in order to maintain welfare payments to an estimated 80,000 families due to be cut this week.
‘‘My comments were not exclusively about the Greens but were certainly made with them in mind,’’ Mr Fitzgibbon, Labor’s chief whip, said.
‘‘In our region they not only want to close down the coalmining industry but have opposed every proposed economic development in recent years.
‘‘The Hunter Economic Zone (HEZ), the Huntlee housing estate and even the Hunter Expressway are prime examples.
‘‘Further, their big push now is to increase taxes in order to provide greater incentives for people to remain out of the labour market at a time when we need all the employees we can muster.’’
Mr Brown said Labor right-wing MPs like Mr Fitzgibbon preferred ‘‘to live in an economy rather than the real world’’, which had ‘‘a whole lot of minority groups’’.
‘‘So much for democracy,’’ Mr Brown said.
‘‘Let’s look at some minority groups, how about Aboriginals, the homeless, the disabled, the mentally ill, the unemployed and asylum seekers?’’
Mr Bandt said Labor’s policy to cut about $90 a week in parenting payments from an estimated 80,000 families was ‘‘disgraceful’’.
He said a new marginal tax rate of 50 per cent on earnings above $1 million a year would raise about $790 million over three years.
Mr Fitzgibbon said it was ‘‘hard’’ for a Labor government to cut welfare but it was ‘‘part of an effort to break the welfare cycle’’.