Monday, 22 May 2023
Private Members' Business
Another sitting week begins in earnest. On a Monday, out of the gates, we have private members' business. I've got to say I'm just a little bit more chipper than usual, and that is for two reasons in particular. The first reason is, after all, it has now been a year and a day since last year's election, which was when the good people of Spence elected me to this place for the first time.
The second reason is that a week ago from tomorrow the Treasurer got up in this place and delivered his second budget address. It was a budget that works towards easing many of the pressures faced by Australians and that does so in a responsible way, one that addresses many shortcomings of nine years of a Liberal-National government. It is a budget that benefits many people in Spence, across the state of South Australia and, for that matter, across the entirety of Australia. It does so in a measured and targeted way.
I'd scarcely think that the member for Forde's intention behind moving his motion today was to provide a platform for members on our side of the chamber, like the member for Solomon and the member for Pearce, to spend our time giving him an informative recap of the budget address. I'm sure he was alert and taking notes on the night, but I am certainly happy to oblige the member for Forde, and I'm sure more of my colleagues are just as eager to do so.
Going by the wording of the motion, it is clear to see that the member for Forde wants a budget that shows fiscal restraint, has simpler and fairer taxes, makes the lives of small businesses and families easier and, at the same time, does not add to inflation. The member for Forde certainly drives a hard bargain. If the budget does all of these things save for one, it turns into a pumpkin and is forever an abject failure in his eyes. It's much like the bus in the movie Speedif the bus goes above 50 miles an hour it will explode; if it goes below 50 miles an hour it will also explode. This is coupled with a few more elements which I cannot wait to touch on later, but I was raised to eat my vegetables before I could tuck in to my dessert.
The member for Forde's motion also alludes to the first budget delivered by the Albanese Labor government. The member for Forde even goes so far as to say our government 'abandoned all goals of balancing the budget'. He's been a member of this place since the 43rd Parliament. It was almost as if he'd sleepwalked through the budgets delivered under the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments. In this context, it is even more fitting to refer to it as the ATM government!
The member for Forde's motion also notes that government spending increased in Labor's first budget. Let's examine the ATM government's record in contrast and see whether the member's motion demonstrates naivety or whether he is just cravenly partisan. The economic record the member champions is one that saw expenditure continue to rise with each successive Liberal-National budget—a record that saw debt balloon out prior to the first pandemic budget. I'm isolating that period for my comparison just to be as fair as I possibly can, because unless you're Senator Antic—and perhaps a few others, too—I doubt those opposite believe there were any plans or policies in place regarding the COVID-19 pandemic between the 2014-15 and 2018-19 budgets. I think we can all remember a time when net debt sitting at around 10 per cent of GDP was a core aspect of a debt and deficit disaster, according to those opposite and sections of the media. I must say: as the years drag on, those opposite have gone a bit quiet. I wonder why that might be!
In fact, this budget has forecast a modest surplus in the 2022-23 fiscal year, with an underlying cash balance of 4.2 billion. As the Treasurer noted, we aren't to call it a surplus until it has materialised—not just been forecasted. The Albanese government is one that shows not just fiscal restraint but also the restraint to not sell 'back in black' coffee mugs either; I wonder if they'll put them back up for sale after July!
As many of us know, those opposite have, for a very long time, propagated a myth. It's their oldest myth—blue man, good economic managers; red man, bad. Sometimes they drink their own Kool-Aid! Cognitive dissonance can be a scary thing—truly frightening, indeed. I pray the member for Forde has not fallen victim to it. If so, I hope he listens to our side of the chamber in this debate and puts himself on the road to recovery. Get better soon!