House debates

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Matters of Public Importance

Economic Leadership

4:10 pm

Photo of Steve IronsSteve Irons (Swan, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

It is a pleasure to rise to talk on this MPI. I see the other side of the House waving at me, which is great! It is always good to follow the member for Lilley, my namesake; he does occasionally get called the member for Swan.

Without using any cartoon analogies, I might use some sporting analogies to talk about one of the things we have learned over the years. It just happens that a quote from the member for Fraser is:

The big challenge for the ALP will be convincing the electorate that it can run the economy almost as well as the Coalition. “Almost”, because the belief that right-wing parties are better economic managers is so pervasive in developed democracies that few can hope to topple it from opposition.

That might be a perception that the member for Fraser has, but there is a reason that he has picked that up, and the reason is that it is true. It is a fact that the conservative governments in Australia have proven, time and time again, to be better operators of the economy.

One of the things I also learned from sport is that, when you go into a grand final, you try to pick a weakness in someone's team—their team strategy, their team plan or a weak player on their side—and you do not play to their strengths. If we are going to have an economic leadership debate or an economic credibility debate in this chamber, we would welcome it every time. This side will welcome it because the Labor Party has no economic credibility. They spent six years proving to the Australian people why they have no economic credibility.

I remember seeing the Treasurer before the previous Treasurer, the member for Lilley, sitting where the member for Bendigo is now sitting. He stood up proudly with his budget papers—he has just held up ours, but he held up his—and said: 'Tonight, we deliver four surpluses. This is the start of four surpluses.' Well, I have not seen any of them. Maybe the member for Fraser, who puts himself very high on the economic ratings, can tell us where those four surpluses are, where they disappeared to, where they have gone, where they were delivered or if they are ever going to be delivered. I think 1989 was the last time Labor delivered a surplus. So, when they talk about economic credibility, we will have that conversation every time. The Assistant Minister to the Treasurer raised some points about the previous Treasurer, who said at the time that he did not want to raise some things in this parliament because he thought they might be perceived as unparliamentary. But I will raise some of the things that the previous Treasurer said. One of the things he said to Fran Kelly back on 13 May 2010 was:

… the Government has returned the Budget to surplus three years ahead of schedule and ahead of any other major advanced economy …

Can anyone in this place remember those statements being made? Can we remember them? We are still waiting, member for Fraser. We are still waiting for those deliveries from the opposition, who now claim to be economic geniuses and giants, after leaving the Australian economy an absolute wreck and disaster. The previous Treasurer, the member for McMahon, Mr Chris Bowen, in his address to the Investment and Financial Services Association at the postbudget breakfast on 12 May 2010, said:

The Budget is now projected to return to surplus in 2012-13—three years ahead of schedule. This will make us the first advanced economy in the world to return to surplus.

He also said:

By the middle of 2013, our budget will be back in surplus—three years ahead of schedule. We also have the lowest debt and deficit of any major advanced economy.

Well, they have to remember that when they came into power they did not have any debt. And they took us into that position on the excuse of a GFC. First we heard about the Rudd bank, then we heard about GroceryWatch and then we heard about Fuelwatch. How successful were all of those for him? Giants! Geniuses! Fantastic economic programs!

What about when the mining tax was negotiated between Xstrata, Rio Tinto and BHP? They would have had some economic geniuses in their room. And guess who we sent in to negotiate with them on a mining tax? The Treasurer! The Treasurer went in to negotiate with Xstrata and BHP. And what did he deliver? He delivered a 10-year write-off for a re-evaluation of their assets and a 10-year write-off to get them to sign to an agreement for the mining tax—an anti-WA policy and an anti-Australia policy. And what did that mining tax actually deliver? Nothing! It delivered nothing to the budget. It delivered nothing to the Treasury. And this is what will happen if this opposition gets voted in again: they will deliver nothing. And they have got no economic credibility.


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