Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is for the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on how the government's strong economic management is lowering taxes and allowing hardworking Australians to keep more of their own money? Is the Treasurer aware of any threats to this approach?
I thank the member for Bonner for his question. I know that he is working hard for the people of his electorate, and they are direct beneficiaries of the measures that we announced in last night's budget. For the people of Bonner, there are more than 17,000 small businesses that now will be able to access the $30,000 tax offset for small and medium sized businesses. There are, in the electorate of Bonner, more than 70,000 taxpayers who will now be able to get a tax cut as a result of the measures we have taken in this budget.
The people of Bonner, like the people of Queensland, have benefited from the increased investment in schools and hospital funding that we have put in place since coming to government. Last night's budget was the next stage of our economic plan. It set out how we can continue to see strong economic growth and low unemployment and continue to skill up our people for the jobs of today and for tomorrow. One hundred billion dollars of infrastructure is a major contribution to building the productive capacity of our economy so that people can get to work sooner and get home sooner as well, to be at the kitchen table.
We are doing all of this—investing in infrastructure, investing in skills, providing $158 billion of tax cuts—without increasing taxes. That is the difference between us and the Labor Party. The member for McMahon has the gall to tell the retirees of Australia that, if they don't like the Labor Party's policy, then they can vote against the Labor Party. We also saw last night, in the budget papers, that dwelling investment is expected to fall in 2019-20 by seven per cent. This is the worst possible time for Labor's housing taxes, because the Labor Party's housing taxes are designed to drive prices down and rents up. Independent economic modelling has showed that prices could fall by as much as 16 per cent and rents could go up by as much as 22 per cent as a result of Labor's policy.
So the contrast at the next election is very clear. We have a coalition that is delivering budget surpluses next year and into the forwards, as well as infrastructure, skills and lower taxes, and a Labor Party that is committed to higher taxes on retirees, on home owners, on small-business people, on people who go to work. There's only one choice at the next election. Vote for the coalition, because we are for lower taxes.
My question is to the Treasurer. Can the Treasurer confirm that page 159 of Budget Paper No. 2 shows that energy payments will cost $284 million? Can the Treasurer also confirm that, this morning, the government introduced a bill which states that it will cost $365 million, an $81 million blowout in 24 hours? Doesn't this prove that, after six years of cuts and chaos under this Liberal government, the Treasurer's con job has fallen apart before the ink was even dry on the budget papers?
It's like being hit with a wet lettuce, Mr Speaker! At the end of the day, what we have done is provide energy assistance payments to people who need them most. We have done that from a strong budget position. We acknowledge the cost-of-living pressures that people are under. But I can also tell the House that we have announced a budget surplus, and that when it comes to our previous forecasts, we have outperformed them. When it came to the 2016-17 year we outperformed the forecasts in the final budget outcome by $4 billion. When it came to the 2017-18 final budget outcome we outperformed by $19.3 billion.
But when the member for Lilley was running around doing budgets, he actually underperformed his own forecasts. Do you know by how much, Mr Speaker? It was by $80 billion!
Missed it by that much! The member for McMahon likes to forget recent history, but let me remind him that after we got elected he went to the Press Club and he set some tests for the new coalition government. One of those tests was that we kept unemployment below 6¼ per cent. I can inform the member for McMahon that unemployment is 4.9 per cent!
There was another test that the member for McMahon set—that we have a AAA credit rating. I can inform the member for McMahon that we have a AAA credit rating! And another test that he set was that we would be in the top 10 countries of the world for economic performance. I can tell the member for McMahon that we're in the top 10 countries of the world for economic performance!
But he also set another test, and that other test was that we set a tax-to-GDP ratio of 23.7 per cent. We are, according to the budget papers, at 23.3 per cent! But do you know what, Mr Speaker? This is the hypocrisy of the Labor Party, because when they were puffing their chests with their union mates at the national conference last year they said that there is no need anymore for a tax-to-GDP ratio, 'Forget a speed limit on taxes; we will increase taxes and that won't have any impact on the economy.' So the member for McMahon has no credibility. He went to the Press Club, he set tests for us and we have met those tests. These are tests that he won't even hold himself to account on.
My question is to the Treasurer also. Will the Treasurer update the House on how the government is guaranteeing the essential services that Australian families rely upon, including in my electorate of Robertson? And how might a different approach to managing our economy undermine this approach?
I thank the member for Robertson for her question. I can inform the House that, as a result of the measures announced last night, there are more than 16,000 small businesses in the member for Robertson's electorate, and medium-sized businesses, that will benefit from the extension to the instant asset write-off to $30,000—and also to companies with a turnover of up to $50 million.
Mr Champion interjecting—
We've already seen more than 350,000 small businesses—
Opposition members interjecting—
The Labor Party is not interested in small business. They actually want to increase the taxes on small business. They're not interested in small business; they're not interested in the engine room of the economy—3.3 million people. In every corner of the local community there is a small business, from the drycleaner, to the cafe, to the person who runs the local shop. They're the small businesses that we, as Liberals and Nationals, spoke to last night. And they are the small businesses that the Labor Party ignores.
In the member for Robertson's electorate there are 16,000 of them that will benefit directly as a result of the measures. There are nearly 60,000 taxpayers in the member for Robertson's electorate who will benefit directly from the tax cuts that we announced last night. There are two instalments to those tax cuts. There is the extension of the instant low-and middle-income tax offset, which will see somebody on $60,000 a year get $1,080 in their pocket in just 13 weeks time when they put in their next tax return. If you're a teacher or a tradie and you're a couple in a family, if you're earning $60,000 each then that's $2,160 in your pocket in 13 weeks time due to the announcements of the Morrison government. That's money that goes to your quarterly energy bill. That's money that goes to your monthly mortgage payment. That's money that goes to your yearly car insurance. These are decisions taken by our government that will ease the cost of living for all Australians. And because we have a strong budget position we are able to spend more—record amounts on hospitals and schools, like building a children's cancer centre for the first time in Sydney, like a brain and spinal ward in South Australia, like extending the PBS to six new drugs, like one for acute leukaemia that would otherwise cost $130,000 for a course, but now will cost $6.50 for a concession card holder and $40 for someone who is a general patient. Last night's budget was for the people of Australia. Last night's budget creates a stronger economy. Last night's budget guarantees essential services.
As has been said many times, it is this government that has provided an energy supplement to the people to ease their cost of living pressures, and we have done that with a strong budgetary position. It wasn't something that the Leader of the Opposition had ever thought of. The out of touch Leader of the Opposition—someone who's not interested in the cost of living pressures with his new electricity tax, someone who's not interested in cost of living pressures by raiding the hard earned savings of retirees, someone who's not interested in cost of living pressures with his push for increased rents for millions of Australians—
I refer to your earlier ruling today with respect to preambles broadening the relevance rule. This question contains absolutely no preamble and deals specifically with asking the Treasurer when it was that he first decided that the energy payment numbers and decisions in the budget were wrong.
I will rule on that point of order first, if the Treasurer would resume his seat for a second. The Manager of Opposition Business is correct that this is a very short question. It is in fact one question without a preamble—highly unusual, if I can make that observation! But as I've said on many occasions the Treasurer is entitled to have the opportunity in his introductory remarks to give some context. He's been going for about 35 or 40 seconds—there's 2:19 left on the clock and it is three minutes. So, I would be expecting him to come to the specifics of the question or wind up his answer quickly. The Treasurer has the call.
We have extended the energy supplement to include this new cohort of recipients, to ensure that this piece of legislation passes the House. It is interesting to see the Leader of the Opposition, who never came up with this idea of supporting the low- and middle-income earners—the people on disability support pension and the age pension. We made this decision because we wanted this legislation to pass the House.