Monday, 22 May 2023
Private Members' Business
It gives me no pleasure to rise in response to this motion, which I assume is part 2 of the previous statement from the government about how it's been a good 10 months. I remember that when that statement was made I asked, 'For who?' A good 12 months? I'll ask again, 'For who?' This is a great self-congratulatory motion moved by Labor for Labor on Labor.
But I don't think the people of Australia are going to be too keen to be listening in to this particular one about how great things are going. Certainly not in my patch, where we have great charities like Protea Place and Hope Horizons that, for the first time ever, have had to cancel fundraising functions because there's a lack of tickets able to be sold. There's just not enough money in the economy floating around. Places like Base Services, that do such a good job helping homeless people into jobs, have got the largest demand they've ever had, and at the same time they're getting the least community support because the economy isn't there to support them. We've seen recently that business insolvency across the nation has doubled across the last 12 months. It has not been a great 12 months.
This speech deserves some interrogation because it's not just self-congratulatory and it's not just tone deaf; it is misleading to talk about what the economy was that this government inherited. The lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. Welfare dependency at its lowest levels in 30 years. Tax rates for small businesses were at the lowest rate in 50 years. Eleven million Australians had reduced taxes across that term of government, in which two million new jobs were created. That's to put some facts on the table there.
Let's look at what we have here. 'Responsible cost-of-living relief' is the description for this budget. There is $185 billion of additional spending. No, you don't get to use the word 'responsible'. That's a stimulus budget; that's what that is. That's fuel on the fire; that's what that budget is. Cost-of-living relief? Not if you're a double income household trying to get ahead. A young couple buying a house, getting a mortgage and putting kids through school—this is not a good package for you.
Part (3)(b), that this budget creates more opportunities for Australia, is completely misleading. The budget confirms 175,000 Australians will lose their jobs. That's not opportunity. That is opportunity being stripped from Australians. Let's be really clear about what this budget does say and what this budget does for Australia. It reduces opportunities for Australians—175,000 jobs taken away.
Part (3)(c) states that this budget builds a more secure economy into the future. Goodness me! When we have seen the instant impact of price caps stripping away investment in the gas sector, at a time when we have an energy price crisis, the insecurity this brings to Australia's future energy supply cannot be described in enough detail. I do not have enough time left to go into this, but the price caps we've seen confirmed in this budget will have the same impact that price caps have had on every economy they've been imposed on. They will drive up prices. That is what they have always done and that is what they will always do.
The previous speaker talked about being upfront. Let's go through the broken promises we've seen for the last good 12 months. Cuts to your electricity bill by $275? No, that's broken. Cheaper mortgages? No, that's broken. There are no changes to super or lower inflation. There'll be no industry-wide bargaining: 'It's not part of our policy.' There are three promises, all broken. The promise that every aged-care home would have a nurse onsite at all times by July this year? No. These are broken promises.
The idea that this government has been upfront across the last 12 months—we saw recently a great example of what we have seen for the last 12 months. We've had a Treasurer caught out by the ABC—of all people—for deliberately misleading Australians on the size of the debt. You know it's bad when even the ABC don't trust Labor. That's a pretty bad state of affairs. You've lost your base there, guys. This is the government we have. As much as it troubles me to take away the glorious backslapping and self-congratulatory indulgence and that slight whiff of hubris about this motion, it has not been a great 12 months for the people of Australia. It has been a very difficult time.
We've been listening. We are out there, on the ground, listening to what Australians are saying. And they are not supportive of this sort of motion.