Tuesday, 27 October 2020
Questions without Notice
National Integrity Commission
My question is to the Prime Minister. This country is heading towards $1 trillion of Liberal debt. The most recent budget contained more than 30 buckets of money with more than $5.7 billion of discretionary funds. Don't taxpayers have a right to know their money is being spent honestly and wisely? And why won't this government legislate for a national integrity commission, given you've had the draft since last year?
Mr Speaker, you've just heard the passionate words of the Treasurer, a proud Victorian—like so many other proud Victorians in this chamber, not restricted to either side of this chamber. The question has been raised by the Leader of the Opposition about the wisdom of the spending commitments that the government has made in the budget. He's questioning the expenditure that this government is putting in to ensure that this country recovers from the COVID-19 recession. The Leader of the Opposition likes to say he supports the government's plans out of one side of his mouth, and out of the other side of his mouth he is happy—
Yes, Mr Speaker, on direct relevance: it wasn't about whether the funds should exist; it was about whether they should be scrutinised to make sure they're not rorted, just like sports rorts, another program where they have been.
Speaker, you've just heard the Treasurer say where our investment is going that has led to the increase in the debt, and right now that's $200 million every single day to support Victorians through the biggest challenge they've seen in generations. It's there to ensure that businesses have been able to stay in business. It's there to ensure that Australians have been able to remain in their jobs. Were it not for the investments that we've put in place throughout this crisis, 700,000 additional Australians would have been out of work—700,000.
So, if the opposition is looking for a reason as to why the government has gone into unprecedented spending to get Australia through this crisis, he need look no further than those 700,000 Australians he scoffs at with this question. He scoffs at the Australians who have been supported by a government who gets it—a government that understands that, in the most unprecedented crisis in 100 years, a health pandemic, the government would step up to support businesses, to support industries and to keep people in jobs with cash-flow assistance.
And it's not just for today, and it's not just for the recovery tomorrow that will recover what has been lost through this crisis. It's the investment we make for the future, whether it's the manufacturing plan which the minister for industry had the opportunity to speak to this parliament about today: $1½ billion, building on the economic reforms that will make manufacturing businesses competitive in this country, but also the $1.9 billion which the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction is putting into new technologies to ensure that not only do we have affordable energy and the gas for the feedstock that this country needs to grow manufacturing businesses and to grow heavy industry, but also to ensure we have a lower emissions future.