House debates

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Matters of Public Importance

Economy

4:00 pm

Photo of Ed HusicEd Husic (Chifley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Here is an MPI talking about the economy, asking for the government to explain itself in terms of what it's going to do, and where's the Treasurer? Nowhere. He's nowhere to defend himself. I watched for a while because the member for Petrie was there on his own. He normally has one expression on his face, so it's hard to discern emotions, but I thought for a moment he was panicked because he was going to be the last line of defence. And then they brought in the last-last line of defence, in the member for Deakin, here defending the Treasurer and being able to represent the government's position on economic policy, because the Treasurer has no plan.

Unfortunately, I may be the only one to notice this: the Treasurer seems to have a little bit of a formulaic approach to delivering every single answer. He'll basically just bombard you with facts. It's like watching one of those magicians pull knotted handkerchiefs out of his mouth—one fact after the other, to the point where he doesn't convince you with argument; you just surrender because you've heard so many facts from him. After telling us everything, talking everywhere, bombarding the press gallery with 5.30 am WhatsApp messages—he can't leave them alone; I'm sure at some point they'll put in a claim for bullying—he then says, 'The Labor Party's talking down the economy.' How? We don't get a chance to get a word in! He's the Treasurer who's always talking, but he can't come up with a plan. He has a media plan, he has a plan to politic; he doesn't have a plan for the economy. And he doesn't have a plan to respond to this.

He mentioned today that the wage price index had moved by 2.2 per cent. If you look at the wage price index—an indication of what's happening with people's pay packets—you see that, in the five years to December 2013, wages moved by 3.3 per cent, on average. During the GFC, they moved by 3.3 per cent. In the five years from December 2013 to December 2018, what happened to wages? They moved by 2.2 per cent. Under the government's watch, wages started to flatline. What was happening in the five years to December 2013? We had a GFC, and still wages grew more strongly than they have with anything the other side have been able to do. They have no answer for the poor performance of wages. This is a big deal to people because it means that they cannot necessarily have the confidence to pay for the things that they want to do, the confidence that they're going to have the money there to support them.

Those opposite talk about unemployment but never mention that 700,000 Australians are out of work and that another million are saying that, if you ask for more hours or better pay, you're not getting it. Underemployment is a big issue. They have no plan, particularly for the long-term unemployed, the number of whom stays at roughly 400,000 a year. There is no plan for them. There's no plan to get people more work.

If you look at this other damning statistic, you see that the number of jobs that people have to hold down has doubled over the last year. The number of people holding four jobs—four!—has doubled over the past year. Again, does the government have any idea what they'll do?

They'll say that over the course of a budget wages will increase, but it never happens, and people still feel the same way. Household debt is high. In terms of things that matter, business investment is not growing; business confidence is floundering. They are an out-of-touch government that have no answer, no way to help ordinary workers and their families. All they've got is a plan for politicking, and there's got to better than that.

We can't keep having a government say that the biggest job that they have to do when parliament sits is to set a test for us. No, the bigger test is for them: to be able to show that they can actually deliver an economy that works and that works for everyone, not just some. This is the problem with those opposite. Like I said: they've got a media plan, they've got a plan for politicking, but they've got no plan for an economy.

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