Monday, 21 November 2022
Private Members' Business
While the minister might have spent a lot of time talking about wages going up, the budget shows that real wages are going backwards under this government. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder. The reality is that Australia as a nation should be proud of the way in which we responded to the threat imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian economy, thanks to the strong fiscal and economic management of the previous government, was able to weather the storm and exit the pandemic as one of the strongest economies among Western countries. None of this would have been possible without the leadership and determination of the former government.
The former coalition government ensured that all Australians were given the opportunity to withstand the impact of the pandemic and recover quicker and stronger than any other advanced economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France. They made support available to people from all backgrounds to provide stability through this troubled time. One such program implemented by the Morrison government was JobKeeper, which enabled 700,000 Australians to hold onto their jobs during this period, especially in small business, to help the unemployment rate stay low while job insecurity was high. I was working in business at that time and I can attest firsthand to the impact JobKeeper had in keeping our business afloat and keeping Australians employed. This solidified the decrease of the unemployment rate to 3.5 per cent as of September 2022, which is a far cry from the unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent the coalition inherited from the Rudd government in 2013. This result highlights why it is an insult to all Australians when the Treasurer and those opposite talk about a trillion debt with nothing to show for it. Not only is the trillion dollar debt a lie and political spin—debunked by economists and that conservative place of media, the ABC Fact Check—but it devalues the lives saved and the jobs saved by the actions of the former government. The Treasurer also never mentioned in his budget speech that this budget increased debt levels compared to the coalition's budget in May—a fact that he does not like to mention.
As the representative of my electorate of Casey, I was anxious to see the government's economic plan for the 2022-23 budget, how this would build on the foundations of pandemic recovery put in place by the previous government and what the impacts on my community would be. On budget day, I couldn't have been more disappointed. In addition to no economic plan, the Albanese government ripped away millions of dollars of infrastructure funding which would have ensured the safety of my constituents—funding that was bipartisan. The $150 million roads to communities project for sealing dirt roads across my electorate was dumped in favour of the $2.2 billion suburban rail link—a project not even reviewed by Infrastructure Australia yet. That's not to mention the $110 million for the Wellington Road duplication that was cut by this government, decreasing safety for those in the Dandenongs.
Looking to the future, under the current government, Australians have nothing to look forward to. Under this government's reckless strategy of spend more, save less, our nation's debt has been predicted to skyrocket by over $230 billion. They're in charge now and they are taking action. This will lead to increased interest repayments which will take over $25 billion out of the budget by the 2025-26 financial year, taking money out of health, leaving our communities short-changed when it comes to funding.
This increased spending will only lead to one thing for Australians: Labor's bread-and-butter plan of raising taxes. From the budget, Labor's forecast is an increase in taxation by almost one per cent of GDP, raising the overall tax receipts to 23.4 per cent of GDP. It is clear that this government has no plans for the Australian economy. All we hear is political spin and excuses. This will make life harder for the residents in Casey and the nation. This Treasurer needs to stop blaming others; he needs to take responsibility, realise he is no longer in opposition and actually deliver for the Australian people.