Thursday, 27 February 2020
Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020; Second Reading
I rise to speak to these two bills, Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020, which seek to appropriate additional funding for the 2019-20 financial year, as reflected in the 2019-20 MYEFO, as well as bushfire related initiatives announced after the 2019-20 MYEFO was handed down. I support the amendment moved by the member for Rankin. As indicated by the shadow Treasurer, the Labor Party will support these appropriation bills because we do not block supply, but let's be clear: this isn't a tick for the government when it comes to their handling of the economy or the budget. After six years of the Liberals and Nationals, the economy is floundering and Australians are struggling, but the Morrison government has no plan to boost wages or grow the economy. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer shouldn't be using the fires and the coronavirus as an excuse for their longstanding failures on the economy. The economy was weak before the fires and before the virus hit. Growth had already slowed since the election and had almost halved since the Prime Minister and the Treasurer took over in 2018. Net debt has more than doubled under the government's watch and gross debt is well over half a trillion dollars—record highs. In 2013, when the government came to office, gross debt was $257 billion; in 2019, it was $542 billion; and it has been over $500 billion since 2017—well over 40 per cent of GDP.
Of course, we recognise the impacts of the bushfires and coronavirus, in terms of physical, psychological and economic impacts, but economic growth and wages growth were downgraded before the impact of the bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak. Almost two million Australians were looking for work or more work before the impact of the bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak. In January this year, the youth unemployment rate rose to 12.1 per cent from 11.6 per cent in December. There are a whopping 270,000 young people unemployed. Wages growth has been stuck at or around record lows for the last few years under the Liberals—around two per cent, on average, in the private sector nationally—and low wages and low growth mean that people and businesses don't spend and the economy loses momentum.
Living costs for families are rising way too fast. Recent data shows that childcare costs have increased by 35 per cent since 2013—around six per cent a year, on average. The much-heralded childcare reforms of 2018 have been neutralised by spiralling fee increases and out-of-pocket medical costs have skyrocketed. In Corangamite, locals pay $36 in out-of-pocket expenses to visit a GP and $59 in addition to the rebate to see a specialist. Thousands of young people are dropping out of private health insurance. That area is in crisis, with no solution in sight. Because of the government's failures, we have to meet the challenges and uncertainties of the bushfires and the coronavirus from a position of weakness, not strength.
Now, let's talk about a few areas of mismanagement, or worse, of this economy. For example, let's look at the government's rorts. Scott Morrison poured over 83 per cent—