Thursday, 3 June 2021
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2021-2022, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022; Second Reading
These bills—Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2021-2022 and Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022—and the budget they underpin are consistent with the style and substance of this government, now into its third term after eight years at the wheel. They're consistent with its style and substance because they show lazy and inept economic management. There's no appetite for tackling important reform and no capability, in some cases, for even simple administrative competence when it comes to facing up to immediate challenges.
The government will try to pretend—they try to pretend every day in this place and out in the public domain—that the only frame of reference is the past 12 months. They will point to figures in the early part of Australia's economic recovery, which are positive because they're part of a rebound from a savage decline. They'll point to those positive numbers as if the previous eight years never happened, as if all of that lazy and inept economic mismanagement never happened. But the reality is pretty clear, and I think the Australian people see it. The Liberal-National government were elected on the basis of what they described as a debt and deficit emergency, and what they have achieved is an eye-watering level of debt—now a trillion dollars—without anything to show for it. It's triple the debt that they inherited. Despite what they will do in seeking to lay that at the feet of the COVID-19 pandemic, the truth is they had already doubled that debt before the pandemic occurred. That debt now stands at $40,000 for every single person in Australia, and it's entirely fair for people in the Australian community to ask, 'What is there to show for that eye-watering debt?' The answer is: very, very little.
Unfortunately, this government's approach to economic management has been a version of The Magic Puddingor the anti-Magic Pudding. They've racked up this incredible debt mountain, yet they have delivered nothing in terms of meaningful reform. If it's any kind of magic pudding, it's a bad magic pudding. It's definitely not a back-in-the-black magic pudding. It's the magic upside-down cake. They've borrowed all this money, which will be the responsibility of Australian households to deal with in future, yet what lasting reform or broad public benefit have we got for it? Absolutely nothing.
People will remember that the government bought the self-congratulatory 'back in black' mugs when they pretended they'd secured a surplus, which would occur in the future.