Monday, 22 May 2023
Private Members' Business
In the last few weeks I've had a little bit more time to watch children's movies with my kids, like Finding Nemo, The Jungle Book 2, Lightyear, Puss in Boots and The Super MarioBros. Movie. My repertoire of children's movies is expanding fast. But in watching those films I've seen no greater fiction, no greater flight of fancy, than the motion from those opposite. In the Australian vernacular, they're simply dreaming.
Let me state for the record the unmistakable fact. One year ago, the coalition government left this country in good shape. Despite having faced the greatest financial challenge in almost a century, with the global pandemic, the greatest geopolitical shift since the end of the Cold War and global pressure on energy costs and supply chains, Australia was in a strong position to meet the challenges of this decade. At the end of the coalition government, we left our successors with a country more strong and more resilient than when we inherited it, with almost two million new jobs created, youth unemployment halved from 16 per cent to 8.3 per cent, taxes heading down and a legislated plan for tax cuts that will end the scourge of bracket creep.
We provided the lowest small business tax rates in 50 years; a $120 billion infrastructure pipeline; trade deals with the UK, India and ASEAN; record numbers of apprentices in training; a plan for net zero emissions by 2050 through technology, not taxes; record investments in Medicare, hospitals, schools and aged care; and 2,900 new and amended medicine listings on the PBS from 2013. We started the most significant rebuild of Australia's defences in our lifetime. We strengthened the agreements and partnerships needed to keep Australia strong, whether it was AUKUS, the Quad, Five Eyes or our partnership with ASEAN.
This motion claims the Albanese government is providing cost-of-living relief and a plan for the future. It's fiction. It's the same old Labor tactic: if you're failing, claim you're succeeding. If you're increasing taxes, claim you're providing cost-of-living support. If the public don't know what you're doing, just assert you have a plan. This is a budget without a plan—no plan to reduce expenditure, no plan for inflation, no plan for productivity. This is a budget built on bracket creep and sneakily taking more tax from Australians after they get their inflation recovery pay rise. This is a budget that will give a tax hike to 10 million Australians who earn under $126,000. It's a budget with a new tax on truckies, new franking credits and super taxes that hit retirees and pensioners. It's a budget that, based on its own estimates, increases unemployment by 175,000. It's a budget that is spending $185 billion more and fuelling Labor's inflation fire. It's a budget that ignores what's happening in communities around Australia.
When I chose to go to the back bench last month I went to railway stations, shopping strips and shopping centres and spoke to mums, dads and small-business owners. Our shops are being hit with electricity and gas price increases and declining trade. Consumers are being very cautious around discretionary expenditure. Butchers told me about increasing power bills and fewer customers buying less red meat and choosing less expensive cuts. Chemists told me that customers are getting their prescriptions and that's it. The homewares shop owner showed me her bank statement with $125 in it. She said she was only hanging on for Mother's Day. I went away from those shopping centres and community catch-ups realising there is one economic certainty this year, and that is that shops will close. Households are hurting, but it's small businesses and their employees that are suffering.
Through it all Labor has not kept its promises. Electricity bills are going up by $500 in this budget, despite the Prime Minister promising 97 times to cut power bills by $275. Labor promises power bills will be $1,200 a year in 2024-25. Based on forecasts in the budget, they'll now be higher—at $2,000. The Prime Minister said that, if you make a promise and commitment, you have to stick to it. He promised cheaper mortgages, lower inflation, no industrywide bargaining and no change to super—promises discarded by the Treasurer with a PhD in politics.
My greatest concern is that the government has no plan to tackle inflation. Inflation is a cancer to the economic health of families. Inflation hurts the purchasing power of singles, families and retirees. Inflation corrodes savings, particularly those saving for a house or retirement. It eats away at retirement savings. Inflation is the economic hamster wheel speeding up. More and more is required simply to keep up.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke of a new working poor. I don't want to see Australians heading down the American path where mums and dads work harder and harder in more jobs and longer hours and still don't get ahead, where homeownership slips more and more out of sight, and where families live in fear of big, unexpected rent increases.
This budget is a failure. It's a budget built on bracket creep and on the deficits and red ink of Australian families.