House debates

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Matters of Public Importance

Economic Leadership

4:15 pm

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I have to say that today feels like Groundhog Day. Maybe those on the government benches have been asleep for 900 days, but it has been a very long time since Labor has been in government. You are now in government. And what have you failed to do? You are still stuck in the past, talking about what Labor did in government. How inept are you that you have got nothing to talk about?

The whole point of being in government is to reform. The whole point of being in government is to put forward an economic plan. And you have failed. We are 900 days on and we are in Groundhog Day again. You are repeating the same arguments over and over again. And it is pathetic. When are you going to grow up and be an actual government and put forward a plan that can be debated?

What we have seen in this debate is a bit of a joke. We have had people talking about asylum seeker policy. The debate is on economic policy; we have heard people talking about asylum seeker policy. I will tell you what the problem is with this government's asylum seeker policy: it is the price tag! When are you going to talk to the Australian people about the billions of dollars that you are spending on asylum seeker policy? We have also had brought up in this debate the good old-fashioned live cattle export—again. You forget that Labor fixed that issue when we were in government. And then we heard about the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which is all about ensuring that we have safe roads, and ensuring that truck drivers, including truck owner-drivers, get fair rates of pay.

This is the problem with this government and the government backbenchers: they will talk about anything but economic policy. It is extraordinary. This is economics, which is supposed to be the Liberal Party's nirvana. This is supposed to be your Holy Grail and what you are good at talking about. We cannot trust you on workers' rights. You would not know a worker if you fell over one. We cannot trust you on environment policy. You would not know what to do about the environment—you are all climate change deniers. We cannot trust you on any social policy or housing policy. Their Holy Grail is supposed to be economic management, but what we have seen from this government and its members is a failure—a failure to put forward an economic policy plan.

They changed their leader in the hope that that might bring about a policy change. Another failure! It does not matter who your Prime Minister is, who your Treasurer is or who your frontbenchers are, you have still failed to put forward a plan—a plan for the economy and a plan for the Australian people.

As a result of that failure, as a result of the flip-flopping, and as a result of the hokey-pokey—one foot in, one foot out; one policy in, one policy out; you have backed down to backflip—we have seen a collapse in confidence in the Australian economy. We have seen negative wage growth. We have seen workers and their families go backwards because of this government and their failure to have a plan. In fact, ever since this government got elected, 760 people are now unemployed across Australia as a result of this government's failure. We on this side know that if you want good jobs and good job security, you need strong industry, and to have strong industry you need a government with an economic plan. And this government has failed.

They are too busy talking about the past. It is Groundhog Day, over and over and over again. And Australians do not have time for it, and, quite frankly, they are sick of it and bored with it. And they thought that if they dumped their entire team and brought the reserve team in, they might have a better shot at a decent plan. But you have failed. The government and the Liberals and the Nationals have failed again. They have failed to put forward a plan in an area which people think should just be their heartland—economic policy—and again the government has failed.

They are not willing to stand up and do the hard reforms that are needed in our economy when it comes to tax reform. They will not debate tax reform in a fair way. Instead, all they do is to try to run another scare campaign. It appears the only thing that the modern Liberals can do is to run scare campaigns. They will not actually confront issues and debate them head-on. We live in a pretty topsy-turvy world when it is the opposition that is leading the policy debate and not the government. Perhaps you need to sit back on this side because then you will feel a bit more comfortable about the scare campaign that you are running. This country needs a government that will lead on the hard issues of economic and policy reform, and this government has failed. (Time expired)


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