Thursday, 17 February 2022
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. The Reserve Bank predicts real wages will continue to drop through to mid-2023. Doesn't this show low wages are and have always been a deliberate design feature of the economic strategy of this almost-decade-old government?
No, it doesn't. What supports higher wages and higher real wages is a strong economy. If you want a stronger future, you need a stronger economy. And you're not going to get a stronger economy with the policies that have been supported by the Labor Party—particularly this Leader of the Labor Party over his entire political life. You're not going to get higher wages with higher taxes. You're not going to get higher wages with militant unions running rampant.
On direct relevance. First of all, the question doesn't ask about alternatives; the question asks about government policy. The Prime Minister was able to talk about government policy for all of 19 seconds before he felt a need to talk about alternatives, which aren't in the question.
I repeat what I said when I came to the dispatch box, in direct response to the member's question: no, that is not what it means. I think I've addressed the member's question very clearly. What I'm saying is: if you want higher wages in this country you need a strong economy and strong businesses. You need a strong economy which has strong trading arrangements with the rest of the world, which we've been able to secure; some 76.1 per cent of our trade is supported by the strong trade policies this government has been able to put in place. You get higher wages when you invest in the skills development of Australians, and we have record levels of trade apprentices and trade training—220,000 of them getting better skills, which means they can get better jobs and better wages. That's what we're investing in.
You get a stronger economy when you invest $110 billion in building the infrastructure that Australia needs. The Leader of the Opposition likes to talk a lot about his time as transport minister. He couldn't even build an airport he said he wanted to build. He wants to buy an airline but he doesn't want to build an airport.
No, no. Manager of Opposition Business, I appreciate that you've jumped up on what was essentially one line of the Prime Minister on this point. I've asked the Prime Minister to remain relevant to the question. There was nothing about alternatives in there. The Prime Minister is able to comment about government policy, but the Prime Minister can't go towards any opposition policies or any attacks on opposition policies. The Prime Minister has the call.
There is our strong policy of lower taxes. We are cutting red tape for business, as we've sought to do—particularly with the EPBC Act, which has been stymied by those opposite. We remain committed to that. They are adding cost to every major investment in this country, and we are not doing that. We've been seeking to cut red tape for business, which can actually drive greater investment in this country. We have invested in the skills. We have invested in the infrastructure.
We have a clear, balanced plan to ensure that we can deliver reliable, affordable energy, which has seen electricity prices fall by eight per cent over the last two years and five per cent in the last year. That compares to a 101 per cent increase under the Labor Party when they were last in office, which shows that our policies are delivering the reliable, affordable energy that is necessary for businesses to be able to create jobs and get their costs down so they can actually support the labour force and the wages of workers with those higher skills.
The data and digital economy plan will see Australia be a top 10 data and digital economy by 2030. That was backed up by a billion-dollar investment by Google to put in place a research hub in Sydney, one of only five such cities in the world, backing our plan. (Time expired)