House debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Matters of Public Importance

Cost of Living

3:19 pm

Photo of Angus TaylorAngus Taylor (Hume, Liberal Party, Shadow Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

One hundred and fifteen billion dollars of additional spending since the last budget. It's there in the budget papers. When you compare the spending over the four years of the forwards in this budget versus March, there's an extra $115 billion of spending. Even Stephen Koukoulas, economic adviser to Julia Gillard, has said, 'This is not good enough.' In fact, the Kouk said, very clearly, 'This has left the Reserve Bank carrying the can.' Do you know what the Reserve Bank do when they carry the can? They raise interest rates—not once, not twice; indeed, we've seen Goldman Sachs say in recent days that they expect the cash rate to go up to over four per cent—four per cent and still no plan from those opposite. There was just a glimmer of hope that maybe the budget wasn't where the plan was going to come up, that it was going to be in MYEFO. But even to that, in last 48 hours or so, they've said, 'No, that's not happening either.'

So we hope for next May. Australians will keep hoping, because they're paying too much for their mortgage, they're paying more every day at the check-out, they're paying more for their furniture, and they're paying more for their renovations, and Labor has no answer, no plan, to deal with it. A typical Australian who's just entered into a new mortgage of $750,000—which these days in suburban Sydney and Melbourne is a very typical mortgage—they're now paying over $1,200 a month more compared to May this year. That $1,200 a month is on top of all of the other cost-of-living increases they are seeing. So make no mistake, especially with a mortgage, more than three million Australians are going to have to make tough decisions this Christmas, knowing that this government doesn't have their back, and there will be tough conversations around dinner tables about what's going to go.

I want to talk about a few examples from my own electorate. Kyle, from Thirlmere in the north of my electorate, said he and his wife are watching what they spend every day, and his wife has had to return to full-time work, giving up on other things she was doing, to continue to make ends meet. Lesley, from The Oaks, told me she is at the point where she can barely afford to put food on the table or pay her bills. These are Australians struggling right now. They can't wait around for this government to come up with a plan. The test for this budget was very simple: it was to deliver a comprehensive plan to consolidate the strong position that's been inherited. From when the New South Wales and Victorian economies opened up in October—

A governmen t member interjecting

The member opposite should actually have a listen to this. When the New South Wales and Victorian economies opened up in October, from November through to 30 June, the budget was in balance. They are the facts! Meanwhile, the economy was running at a pace that was the envy of the world. In fact, the Reserve Bank governor has said, as he talks to central bank governors all around the world, that other governors look at his position with great envy because of the strength of the economy that we have seen over the last six months.

The key for Labor was to consolidate that position, to put downward pressure on inflation and interest rates without raising taxes and to relieve the supply-side pressures in the economy, like getting more pensioners into work—not a half-baked attempt to do it, but a real attempt to get those pensioners into work—and there are so many who want to do it. Meanwhile, the final test was to deliver on those key promises: cheaper mortgages, lower electricity prices and improvements in real wages. It failed every test.

On top of that, in this budget Labor added $142 billion of extra tax. Those opposite, having taken $142 billion of extra tax from the Australian people, now want more taxes. They're talking about franking credits. In fact, we know in the budget there was $500 million of extra franking credit taxation. That wasn't in their election plans! We also see the Treasurer, day by day, floating another tax increase he wants to talk about, whether it's a windfall tax on our resources companies, whether it's getting rid of the stage 3 tax cuts—we know they're doing the work—or whether it's superannuation. I'm sure that's what we'll see in the next budget—not relief for Australians from inflationary and interest rate pressures. In fact, what we will see is additional taxation.

If that isn't bad enough, Labor's IR bill isn't going to help the Australian economy through a tough time. It's only going to harm it. The businesses that will be hurt most are small- to medium-sized enterprises. We've seen today in the RIS exactly what sorts of costs are going to be imposed on them, because they don't have HR departments, for the most part. They will have to deal with something they've never had to deal with before, which are virulent union officials wanting to reunionise or unionise their workforce. In fact—the member opposite talked about pay rises—when you look at the latest WPI data, which has come out just in the last week or so, the strongest growth in wages is where there are individual agreements in the private sector. That's where we are seeing the real strength.

Businesses have come out very clearly against this bill. Andrew McKellar, the chief executive of ACCI, has made it very clear they are deeply unhappy with this. Jennifer Westacott, from the Business Council, said:

We want wages to go up but that won't be achieved by creating more complexity, more strikes and higher unemployment.

Innes Willox, from AiG, has said:

The proposed changes to Australia's workplaces introduced to federal parliament … risk taking the country down a path of more strikes, fewer jobs, centralised decision-making and less trust within our enterprises.

That is what those opposite want, because they are paying the paymasters.


No comments