Wednesday, 26 May 2021
Financial Regulator Assessment Authority Bill 2021, Financial Regulator Assessment Authority (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2021; Second Reading
He stood accused of coordinating the committee's hearings, not doing serious work on the regulators but running a public circus around the country, having a crack at the Labor Party. He was not doing his job of examining government policy or looking where regulation could be improved; he was running a public circus on the taxpayer bill around the country, coordinating the committee's public hearings with a private company's meetings. He set up a dodgy website; this was all referred on. Initially, it was a personal website on his Liberal Party website, with the Commonwealth logo on top. If you wanted to register to come to the hearings, first you had to sign a petition and give your details, which were then mined and used for a Liberal Party database, because people got spammed. You had to sign the petition to be allowed to come to the hearing. Then there were the fundraisers that were held around the committee activities.
Deputy Speaker Wallace, I'll keep my words brief, because I know that you can't respond from the chair. It was the Deputy Speaker here who was handing out membership forms for the Liberal Party at the public hearings. This was referred to the Speaker. His report noted that the actions failed 'to conform with the conventions usually adopted by the Chair of the House Economics Committee' and specifically called the handing out of Liberal Party material as 'inappropriate'.
The member for Goldstein, of course, has a great advantage over most of us in this place; he really does. It's not his intellect or his judgement, his intelligence or his charm; he has no shame, because he's at it again this term with this nutty personal idea to use superannuation for housing. As everyone has said—serious economic commentators and even former Treasurer Joe Hockey—that's just like pouring petrol on the fire of current house prices. Putting more cash in people's pockets as they go to bid at an auction pushes up prices. It's all demand side. You don't make housing more affordable by making it more expensive. You may as well put a vacuum cleaner into your super account to suck the money into the pocket of the guy selling the house, because the only people who benefit from this policy—being driven by the Chair of the House Economics Committee running a political proposal instead of doing serious work oversighting the regulators—are people who already own houses. Let's be clear on that.
The member for Goldstein owns five properties. He's declared them on his register with his husband. It's not the people trying to get in the housing market who'd benefit as house prices go up. To his credit, the Treasurer said no. The member for Goldstein has been pushing this big idea, using the committee's time on this. He wrote to the Treasurer and said, 'I want to do an inquiry into this—have another circus to beat up Labor.' The Treasurer said, 'Yeah, but no. We won't be doing that.' He's not deterred, though. He was out this morning still pushing the idea and bagging his own government. Perhaps that's clever. It looks like he believes in something. Pushing demand-side measures through the House economics committee, not oversighting the regulators—hence the need for this bill and the royal commission's finding—is incredible hypocrisy whilst he's out actively opposing investments in housing by superannuation funds.
I make the point that we do support this bill. The royal commission found it necessary to recommend it. The government is doing it in a minimalist way. It's not really committed to it. But we have to call out the failure of government members, backbenchers, to take seriously the parliamentary committee processes. There has been a revolving door of chairs of the joint committee, and I do hope that through your chairmanship, Deputy Speaker Wallace, which has started out well from early signs—I'll reserve judgement—we see an acceleration in work and a degree of seriousness which has been lacking for eight years under this government. There have been two reports this term, four reports last term, five in the term before that and 21 under Labor, who took this issue seriously. We wouldn't need legislation like this, we wouldn't need more bureaucracy and more regulators and the royal commission wouldn't have been found necessary if government MPs had been doing their job and not running party political services misusing committees of the parliament, wasting taxpayer money.