House debates

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Matters of Public Importance

Economic Leadership

3:45 pm

Photo of Andrew LeighAndrew Leigh (Fraser, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

Seven hundred and sixty thousand Australians are unemployed across the country, but, sadly, the Treasurer is not among them. We are moving an MPI today on the lack of economic leadership, and you have just heard exactly why we need to move that MPI from the member for Mitchell, who spent 10 minutes at the dispatch box without giving us one positive economic idea.

Watching the Treasurer roll out his constant scare campaigns and ideas is a bit like watching Wile E Coyote constantly chasing around with his ACME bag of tricks. He decided he would go after Labor on our positive plan to boost housing affordability by reining in the excesses of negative gearing. He went after us using a consultant's report, which promptly blew up in his face, when the consultants said they had not actually modelled Labor's policy. When he took the job, he said that the GST would be one of his priorities—he said raising the GST to 15 per cent was important because the GST was an efficient tax. Then, after cabinet rolled him, we suddenly had the humiliating spectacle of the Treasurer at the Press Club admitting that the GST was not that efficient after all.

Who knew that, apart from just about every Australian? It is like that moment when Wile E Coyote dons the lycra wings and goes after the Road Runner over the cliff and keeps flapping down to the ground. When he says there are 'excesses' in negative gearing on Sunrise, he is unable to come into this House to say what those excesses are. According to the government, Labor's negative gearing plan is going to send house prices up or maybe send them down. It will make inequality worse or maybe it will make inequality better. It is like the moment when Wile E Coyote sets up a little seesaw on the edge of the cliff, thinking he will drop a rock on it and send it flying into the air, but instead it goes plummeting down to the ground.

When Labor introduced our positive plan to reduce smoking and to add to the budget bottom line through dealing with tobacco excise, the government made it crystal clear that they were against increasing the tobacco excise. Now, like Wile E Coyote with the fireworks inside the barrel, they have decided that they are going to adopt part or maybe all of Labor's tobacco excise plans. When it came to income tax cuts, the Treasurer told 2GB that:

If we make any changes in tax it will be to deliver lower taxes in other areas particularly for those who are working hard and out there earning a living.

But yesterday he had to retreat with a slightly confused answer at a conference and then he had to send his press secretaries around the gallery to say, 'He really did rule out income taxes.' Again like Wile E Coyote putting TNT on the bottom of the bridge, he was sending himself down onto the ground.

When he was on Sky News, the Treasurer said:

The government has made it crystal clear that we have no interest in increasing taxes on superannuation either now or in the future.

But another one bites the dust, when we see the government is considering in its ACME bag of tricks returning to make changes to superannuation.

On multinational tax it is like the ACME tornado seeds. The Prime Minister says that we voted against their multinational tax plan. The fact is that we voted against their dodgy deal with the Greens. We supported their tax plan, even though it had asterisks where the revenue estimates were meant to be, but we called on them to go further and put in place serious multinational tax plans, like the one prepared by the member for Lilley and his Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury. Labor's $7.2 billion multinational tax plan would raise real revenue and take serious action on multinational profit shifting.

Today we have had the Leader of the National Party rolling the Attorney-General, the Foreign Minister, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Finance on the issue of the effects test. We have had the Deputy Prime Minister out today saying that he believes the price of milk is too cheap and it should go up. We are not sure of the price it should go up to but he did nominate $11. So apparently $11 a litre is what the Deputy Prime Minister thinks Australians should be paying for their milk. That concern is reflected by people like Richard Goyder of Wesfarmers, who has talked about the risk of an effects test to capital investment. We have capex at a 25-year low and this mob opposite thinks that it is alright to jeopardise capital investment. They will be driving up prices and driving down capital investment. Economic leadership is as far away as it has ever been.


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