House debates

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Matters of Public Importance


3:42 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | Hansard source

I'm pleased to speak on today's MPI. Labor speakers are high on invective, insults and indignation; they are high on their respective high horses. What I would love them to do is get down on the ground and walk through the streets of my town and see the effects of the current global pandemic on the businesses and workers that I represent.

Ms McBain interjecting

With great respect, Member for Eden-Monaro, the bushfires were 18 months ago. As environment minister, I'm closely involved in our continuing response. I know how hurtful they were and how important they are.

Opposition members interjecting

With great respect, members opposite, the experiences that you are bringing to the chamber today are experiences and problems from the past. You never articulate a strategy for the future. You never bring solutions to this chamber; you only bring nastiness, negativity and a lack of hope. To any small businesses or workers who are listening to this today, please don't believe what you hear from the Labor Party. It's really easy to talk about how bad things are; I know how bad they are. Maybe it's a bit difficult for Labor to get on board with a national plan that looks to the future. The one thing people don't want to listen to us arguing about in the chamber today is the difficult circumstances of people's lives and making it political. This shouldn't be the subject of an MPI. This shouldn't be the subject of a nasty debate across the chamber.

In the middle of a global pandemic, a conversation about the economy is quite relevant. I don't think it's a bad debate to be having. With that in mind, we can talk about the good indicators the Treasurer has brought to the parliament today. New business investment has risen by 2.3 per cent. Since the October budget, investment in new machinery has grown by over 22 per cent because of the instant asset write-off. That gives businesses confidence about the future. Labor is giving businesses no confidence about the future at all. Labor is just saying to business: 'Look at what happened last month, six months ago, 12 months ago and base everything that you see on those times with respect to what's going to happen in the future. Don't listen to them.'

Now, come on. Listen to what the Prime Minister and members on this side of the House have been saying. What we have said is that we cannot hold the economy back. Look, the indicators today are really good when you consider the global pandemic. The indicators today should give people confidence that we can bounce back. We know that the economy can bounce back. So, hold that thought if you are a small business or a worker that is worried. Hold that thought and recognise—when lockdowns lift; when vaccination rates lift to 70 and 80 per cent; when border closures are lifted—the economy and the businesses that you work for and the businesses that you own can bounce back.

The Morrison government are making the decisions that will help you. We're not wringing our hands, we're not looking at the past like Labor, we're not raking over old coals. We're working out what you need, what your business needs, what your family needs and what will make a difference in your community. We absolutely want to do that for you, and we are doing that for you. No-one knows that better than me. I represent border communities. I've seen four savage lockdowns. I have tourism operators with amazing sites to show visitors, but no visitors can come to them. I have family businesses that have mortgaged their houses, that have taken loans from parents, and those businesses are sitting in motels while nobody rings up, or, when they do, it seems it's only to cancel. They're desperate for a future income stream and confidence that means they can go on.

It is absolutely appalling that Labor would seek to take that hope away, because that's what they're doing today. That's what this MPI is all about. The only thing that sustains these businesses is faith in the reopening. Do not take that away, that faith the economy will reopen as per the Prime Minister's and the government's national plan. We will learn to live with the virus. We will increase the vaccination rates. We will lift lockdowns and open borders and we will allow you—as members say, it's not about support funding. It's about opening up and allowing us to go back to work.


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