House debates

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Matters of Public Importance

Economic Leadership

3:35 pm

Photo of Alex HawkeAlex Hawke (Mitchell, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

You will not escape this by looking to him for salvation. You cannot escape responsibility for your actions while you were in government. You were made the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, you were made the minister for immigration, and the shadow Treasurer has the hide to come into this place and criticise the Treasurer, who was the minister who came to government with a competent plan to fix the border protection mess that you left behind. Your record is hundreds of boats arriving with thousands of people on them, thousands of people going into detention centres and dozens of new detention centres being opened, and of course that had a fiscal consequence. If the shadow Treasurer wants to talk records, let us talk records. When Labor left office there was a $1.2 billion shortfall in processing offshore asylum seekers. That is a lot of money. There were, of course, dozens of detention centres opened all around the country. There were detention centres in South Australia, there were detention centres in Tasmania—there were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of children in detention.

Ms Chesters interjecting

The member for Bendigo might listen to this. There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of children in detention because of your incompetence, because of your deliberate government policy. You come in here and you say the Labor Party is ready to govern again—they have learnt the lessons of the past. Yet when you examine what the Labor Party is proposing to the Australian people at the next election, you can see clearly that they have not learned the lessons of failure. In fact, the shadow Treasurer has turned up here today and wasted the time of this parliament, just like the Leader of the Opposition did in question time—he cut short time for questions to the executive, time for serious questions about serious policy, and turned the parliament into a form of vaudeville. That is what the shadow Treasurer just did. He did not have a genuine debate with us about any aspect of economic policy. He tried to compare his record with the record of an immigration minister who stopped the boats, fixed the budgetary impact of border protection and having thousands of people in detention, and went on to become Minister for Social Services. He delivered budget savings through a resistant Labor Party in the Senate—he delivered savings in the human services portfolio through a reckless opposition. We know the shadow Treasurer's approach to revenue.

As we approach this election we can look at what Labor has done in opposition; what has been their approach to economic policy. Have they looked responsibly at measures and helped the government deal with the mess they left behind—the debt they left behind, the deficit they left behind? No. From day one they have been committed to wrecking the parliament, they have been committed to damaging the budget and doing as much damage as possible. When you take those decisions, it has consequences. There have been real consequences for the management of our economy and real challenges for the management of our society. They do not understand that the worse they make this problem and the worse they make the budget deficit and debt by blocking responsible savings measures in this parliament, the worse it will be for every government in the future. Labor have blocked $59.5 billion in savings. They have created a budget hole with their own proposals—they have new taxes of $7 billion, they have proposals of $1.13 billion in savings. That is it—that is the heavy lifting they have done to save money. There is $7.05 billion in increased taxes and $1.13 billion in savings. That leaves a new budget black hole of $51.32 billion.

It is great to see the member for Lilley here—he would regard a budget black hole of $51.32 billion as a success—that is not too bad for a former Labor Treasurer sitting in the chamber listening to this. But it is a horrific result when you think about the drop in commodity prices and the terms of trade and the end of the mining investment phase. It underscores what the Prime Minister and the Treasurer talk about every day—the Australian economy has to make that transition out of the mining investment phase. We recognise that we are in a different world and that the global economy is continuing to recover. When you listen carefully to what the government is talking about, when you listen carefully to what the Prime Minister or the Treasurer speak about every single day, they are talking about the new economy, they are talking about innovation. They are not just talking about innovation—it is not just a catchphrase; it is not just something we say—but they have backed that up with changes and proposals in the economic space that the Labor Party cannot even begin to understand. The Prime Minister speaks passionately about crowd source equity funding and he understands we have to have laws to improve that situation. He understands that the venture capital market in Australia is too small and that we need more venture capital. He understands that you have to have the right incentives in the tax system to create a climate of investment where people are willing to invest—not just the big investors, not just the institutional funds but your everyday mums and dads, your everyday small family businesses, your everyday medium businesses, your everyday large businesses of great Aussie companies that have been small businesses and grown. If you do not have the settings right, if you are not talking to them about the things that matter to them, about how they can invest, how they can save, how they can work harder for our economy, you do not have a plan. That is why the Treasurer and the Prime Minister talk about these things every day. That is why our proposals are coming forward. That is why we have capital gains tax proposals coming into this place, to provide incentives for investment—never mind that we oppose strongly the Labor Party's plan.

We are opposed to Labor's plan for this very important reason: we understand that their plan in relation to negative gearing represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the tax code and the operation of gearing in this country—a fundamental misunderstanding of the incentive it provides for ordinary people to invest and take risk, ensuring that we have a climate where people are prepared to take risk and invest in new enterprises. That is why we are here arguing passionately every day for innovation, for the new economy, for the parliament modernising government service delivery so we can ensure we are providing the jobs of the 21st century. It is not enough to come to this place and turn it into vaudeville; it is not enough to come in here and pretend that you did not have a track record of six years of failure, which really delivered the worst period of governance in our country's history. Regardless of which side of politics you are on, that is an objective description, as anyone would find. It is this government which is looking forward to the new jobs for a new, innovative and agile economy. We have the plans and you will see those plans in the budget. We are going to back ourselves and back Australians' abilities every single day.


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