Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister outline to the House how the Morrison government's strong economic management is ensuring the delivery of essential services for Australians, including in my electorate of Forde, that they so heavily rely upon?
I thank the member for Forde for his question and the role he plays, with all of the government members, to ensure that we are able to deliver on our commitments to the Australian people. The most important one of those is that the Australian people know they can trust the Liberals and Nationals with money, and they certainly know, as they demonstrated at the last election, that Labor cannot be trusted with money. It's because we do know how to manage money—the hard-earned earnings of Australians and the taxes they pay. As a result of what we've done in this place, including in the member for Forde's electorate, they are paying less tax. They will always pay less tax when it comes to the Liberals and Nationals, because we believe, unlike those opposite, as demonstrated at the last election, that Australians should keep more of what they earn. This means that our government trust Australians to do the right thing and make the right decisions about the money they earn. They trust us with the hard-earned earnings they have provided through their taxes, because they know we'll manage that well. That's why we are bringing the budget back into surplus for the first time, as the Treasurer has said, in 12 years. We are doing that at the same time, and this enables us to do it.
When you know how to manage money, as our government does, it means you can look the Australian people in the eye and you can say to them: 'We have guaranteed record schools funding on the basis of student need and we are investing $310 billion in our schools over the decade to 2029. We can guarantee the funding will be there for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.' We can guarantee that because we know how to manage money. We can guarantee record health and hospitals funding, including an extra $31 billion through the National Health Agreement and record support for mental health and suicide prevention, because we know how to manage money. We're doing this by keeping the budget in surplus, not increasing the debt and not increasing taxes as those opposite proposed.
What is amazing is that at the last election the Labor Party came up with $387 billion of higher taxes. They say now that Newstart should go up, but when they were taking $387 billion of higher taxes to the last election they still couldn't make that commitment. There are no taxes high enough to satisfy the spending appetite of the Labor Party. But on our side the bulk-billing rate has now gone to 86.2 per cent—a record. There is increased investment in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme—2,200 new and amended items. There's a $503 million youth mental health and suicide prevention plan, a further $496.3 million for an additional 10,000 home care packages— (Time expired)
My question is to the Treasurer. Given the Reserve Bank has already cut interest rates three times since the election to a quarter of the emergency lows during the GFC, downgraded growth three times since the budget, contemplated unconventional monetary policy and confirmed that low wages growth under this government is the 'new normal', what will it take for the Morrison government to be shaken out of its complacency on this floundering economy?
I am pleased to tell the House that, when it comes to real wages, they've been growing at 0.6 per cent. When we came to government, they were 0.5 per cent. I'm pleased to tell the House that employment growth is at two per cent, and when we came to government it was around a third of that. And, at two per cent, it's more than double the OECD average. I'm pleased to tell the House that, since we've come to government, more than 1.4 million new jobs have been created. And I'm pleased to tell the House that today the ABS have announced the current account surplus is the highest on record at $7.9 billion. That's because this Prime Minister and coalition prime ministers before him have entered into free trade agreements, creating some new markets with nearly two billion new customers for Australian businesses to export to. So the coalition is not only cutting taxes but creating jobs, while those opposite will always be the party of $387 billion of higher taxes.
My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister outline how the Morrison-McCormack government's stable and certain budget and economic management are guaranteeing the essential services that rural and regional Australians rely on?
I didn't see any of the Labor members out the front this morning. I always come up and talk to farmers, because farmers are the lifeblood of the nation. They grow the food and fibre.
Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting—
We've got a bit of reaction. What are you standing up for? You don't stand up for anything!
The Deputy Prime Minister will resume his seat. The member for Hunter will resume his seat. He doesn't have the call.
Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting—
No, I'm not calling you. You could only raise a point of order on relevance, and I'm making a judgement: there is no point of order on relevance. Unless you've got a point of order on another matter? If people are surprised by that, I refer to a Harry Jenkins ruling on the same matter—
Mr Dutton interjecting—
Indeed it is, just like the Liberal and Nationals government—perfect working order, backing workers, backing farmers, backing the electorate of Mallee, that wonderful rural Victorian electorate, home to just some of the 8.8 million Australians who call regional Australia home. We are backing them too. The member for Mallee is certainly backing her community. She's out there every day of the week, fighting hard for the farmers, fighting hard for the people who want better digital connectivity.
This government is building the infrastructure to boost growth and to unlock the potential for farmers, for families—certainly in the member for Mallee's electorate. In the member's electorate, as well as investing in road, rail and air infrastructure, we've invested in the essential services people living in regional areas deserve. When I was in Mildura during the election campaign, the mayor of Mildura, Simon Clemence, said the investment we made—$2 million in the landing instruments system at the local airport—was the best investment that we had ever made for his community. He knew that it was going to grow the aviation opportunities for those communities. We've delivered $8.9 million in Mallee through the Mobile Black Spot Program. Forty-one mobile black spot towers have been funded, with 32 already installed.
Opposition members interjecting—
I hear them cry out. They didn't deliver one—not one—mobile phone tower in six sorry years of government, and I was there for three of them. You didn't deliver one—not one, not a single one. A big fat zero, zilch for you guys over there.
Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting—
Oh, I've cut a nerve. What a soft touch you are!
The member for Hunter will leave under standing order 94(a).
The member for Hunter then left the chamber.
Government members interjecting—
Dr Freelander interjecting—
Members on my right. The member for Macarthur will cease interjecting. I haven't called the Deputy Prime Minister.
Well, you can resume your seat for a second. Just for the information of all members raising points of order: I'm not going to keep repeating myself. If you're seeking to raise a point of order, you need to state what the point of order is. If you seek my call to raise a point of order and then just give a speech, that's a gross misuse of the standing orders, and as I treated the member for Hunter I will treat anyone else raising frivolous points of order. If you can't find an opportunity to—well! The Deputy Prime Minister has the call.
No, it's not lies. It's not lies at all. It's the absolute truth—funded or installed. The 750th is now on air in Mallee, in the small town of Nullawil. It's not a big town, but it's an important town. It punches well above its weight, just as the rest of Mallee does, providing the food and fibre that our nation needs and that others need as well. The regional Australia migration package that was recently announced by the minister for agriculture in Mildura—a $20 million package—is also going to bring benefits for Mallee and benefits for regional Australia. (Time expired)
My question's to the Treasurer. Given that the government has presided over the worst wages growth on record, the Reserve Bank has declared that lower wage rises have become the new normal and the finance minister has said that low wages growth is a deliberate design feature of the government's economic policies, why does the Treasurer pretend that the economy is delivering for working people when plainly it isn't?
The jobs numbers speak for themselves. When we came to government, unemployment was 5.7 per cent, and today it's 5.3 per cent. And we have helped create more than 1.4 million new jobs—more jobs for young people, more jobs for seniors and more jobs for women. When it comes to wages—and the honourable member may not have been listening—we have seen real wages growth at 0.6 per cent. When we came to government, it was 0.5 per cent. When Labor was last in office, the real minimum wage fell in three out of six years. Since we've been in office, the real minimum wage has been up every single year. Compensation of employees, which is the wages bill for the economy, is about five per cent. Again, when we came to government, under Labor it was 3½ per cent. And the employment growth is today at two per cent, more than double the OECD average and around three times what it was when Labor was last in office.
So, we are continuing to cut taxes, invest in infrastructure, cut regulation—all designed to boost the Australian economy and to create more jobs. Labor's solution is only higher taxes and reckless spending, the result of which is fewer jobs and lower wages.