Tuesday, 17 October 2023
We are coming up on 18 months of the Albanese Labor government, so I thought it was a good opportunity to have a look and do a bit of a review of the last 18 months and what the then opposition leader and now Prime Minister said when he was in opposition and what he has actually done in the last 18 months. It doesn't matter what you say; it's about what you do and what is happening for the Australian people. I could spend the whole 10 minutes with quotes on what he promised, but this sums it up pretty well. I don't think anyone would disagree. On 17 March 2022, Anthony Albanese said:
A Labor government will lower the cost of living.
He promised he would lower the cost of living. Then in his campaign launch speech, a set piece with lots of work put into it and where he meant every word, he said: 'Labor has real, lasting plans for cheaper electricity, cheaper childcare, cheaper mortgages, cheaper medicines and Medicare and better pay.' Let's go through these promises that this Prime Minister made 18 months ago. He said on cheaper child care: 'Our plans for cheaper child care will make child care more affordable for 96 per cent of families.' That was his promise. The reality is that there are higher fees today than there were 18 months ago—an increase of 9.5 per cent over 12 months. There are longer waiting lists than ever. In Casey, my electorate, it's an average of two years. Mothers have to wait and book in when they are doing their 12-week scans. And there are childcare deserts. Again, I thank the Mums of the Hills and Belinda Young for their advocacy on childcare deserts and the cost of child care in our community. They know that they can't find places when they need them.
Let's look at real wages and the cost of living. They spoke a lot about real wages and better pay and meaningful help with the cost of living. But it's not working. Households are paying 9.6 per cent more under this government.
Those statistics came from the ABS, Member for Dawson, so they are very reliable numbers. They stack up, Member for Parramatta, because I know you will check. People are working more and taking home less, with real wages falling by 2.4 per cent to June. That's the number that matters, the real wages, because that's what Australians are feeling. We're now in a per capita recession. We've had two-quarters now where growth, per person, is negative. So we're going backwards, again, under this government.
Regarding inflation, the OECD economic outlook forecast the second consecutive downgrade to Australia's GDP growth forecast and predicts inflation will be higher for longer under Labor. Our economy will grow at a slower rate than the EU, the United States, Brazil, Mexico and the G20 average. Australia's core inflation rate will lead the Euro area, the United States and the G20 advanced economies by 2024. Australians know this because they're feeling the pain every day.
Turning to cheaper mortgages, this Prime Minister, when he was the Leader of the Opposition, stood there and promised cheaper mortgages to the Australian people.
An honourable member: How's that going?
Good question. There have been 11 interest rate rises since he became Prime Minister. If he's happy to promise cheaper mortgages, he can live with the consequences of 11 interest rate rises. He didn't put caveats on it. As I mentioned, 'cheaper mortgages' is all he said.
A typical Australian family with a mortgage of $750,000 is paying $22,000 more, per year, than they were a year ago. They know that every time the bank takes that money out of their accounts. House prices have gone up in every state and every city, so you need a bigger mortgage just to get into the market. But, remember, this Prime Minister—no ifs or buts—promised the Australian people cheaper mortgages. Well, he hasn't delivered that.
He also promised a Voice to Parliament.
We will deliver a constitutionally enshrined Voice to our Parliament.
This will be an uplifting moment of healing and unity for our country.
There's no doubt many people are struggling at the moment with the result on the weekend. It was a missed opportunity to achieve the healing and unity that the Prime Minister promised. But he never sought a bipartisan position. He refused to answer the 15 questions that the opposition leader and the shadow minister for Indigenous Australians asked. He never attempted to achieve bipartisan support. He did not move his position at all. He acknowledged on the weekend that history shows that referendums do not pass without bipartisan support, so why did he proceed without bipartisan support? He will have to answer that question and explain to the Australian people why he chose to divide this country instead of providing the healing and unity that he promised. That's on him as the leader of this country, because, as he said, the leader is responsible.
On productivity growth, the Prime Minister said we were going to 'embark on a new era of economic reform with productivity growth at the centre'. Unfortunately, productivity is in freefall, with another annual fall of negative 3.6 per cent. Productivity has fallen for three consecutive quarters for the first time since 2005, experiencing its deepest three-quarter fall on record.
We know that sustainable higher real wages are only possible with higher productivity, but we don't have a Prime Minister or a Treasurer investing in and making the decisions to drive productivity growth. Nothing shows that better than the Prime Minister's refusal to have a minister for the digital economy. Technology is one of the key drivers to get productivity where it needs to be, and there's not a dedicated minister focused on that.
The Prime Minister likes to talk about how he was the infrastructure minister. He quoted it in his speech at the campaign launch:
We will invest in infrastructure to boost productivity and create jobs.
We'll improve regional roads and major highways.
It's news to the member for Dawson, I can tell. He asked a very good question about infrastructure in question time today and got completely ignored by this arrogant Prime Minister. His 90-day review is already up to 170 days. As the member for Dawson said today, maybe we'll get an answer by 200 days.
In my community we know the Prime Minister has abandoned infrastructure at Killara Road and the Maroondah Highway, endangering lives in Coldstream. There's a reason the CFA in Coldstream and Gruyere are calling for this—it's so they can get out to the jobs quicker and save lives. The Canterbury Road upgrade in Montrose, so important to our community, is weeks away from starting. It was at tender and is now on pause because this Prime Minister will not invest in infrastructure. That's before we even talk about cutting $100 million in sealing roads in our community. In 2019, when he was the shadow minister for infrastructure, he supported that 10-year plan for 100 kilometres of road, and he broke his promise and backflipped and cut that money out of my community. He also said:
Labor will put the focus back on nation-building infrastructure using the Infrastructure Australia model I created as Minister.
It's a big claim. What did he actually do? He gave $2.2 billion to the Daniel Andrews Labor government in Victoria for the Suburban Rail Loop. That project didn't go through Infrastructure Australia. He pulled money out of my community and gave it to Daniel Andrews and Labor for the Suburban Rail Loop. He broke his word again and didn't put it through Infrastructure Australia.
We now move on to cheaper power for homes and businesses. The Prime Minister said the Powering Australia plan will deliver investment in cheap renewable energy and will mean cheaper power for homes and businesses. I think the member for Dawson knows where I'm going next. The Prime Minister also promised to reduce power bills by $275.
Honourable members interjecting—
I'll take the interjections from those opposite because I know they get frustrated that the Prime Minister and many of them on the campaign trail promised 97 times to reduce power bills by $275. Well, guess what? In March 2022 it was $1,393. In October 2023 an annual power bill is now $1,827—a long way off that $275 that he promised and many candidates and MPs opposite promised. I appreciate that they want to interject and get frustrated, but when you are struggling to pay the power bills you relied on that promise from this Prime Minister. He continues to break his promises.
The Prime Minister promised the urgent care clinics would be delivered by 1 July this year—they're not delivered. Cheaper medicines, ripping money out of pharmacies and small businesses in regional communities—he's not paying for cheaper medicines; he's making small businesses and families pay for that, putting their viability at risk. I've run out of time to talk about petrol prices. He was happy to criticise the prime minister when they were $1.79. He has no plan at all to bring petrol prices down.