Senate debates

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Matters of Public Importance

Economy

4:36 pm

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (Queensland, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

The reason the Labor Party will be thrown out will be because of their economic management. You will never forget that. I want to go through a quick expose of the differences between us, seeing as we have been hearing about the previous Labor government. I dug this document up. When Labor were last in government, they had $95.8 billion on the nation’s credit card. When the coalition left government there was zero. The interest bill each year on that Labor government debt—that immaculate, wonderful conception of the Labor Party—was $8.4 billion, almost as much as they announced the other night in Christmas presents. Average mortgage rates were 12.75 per cent under Labor, 7.25 per cent under the coalition. Average small business lending rates were 14.25 per cent under them, 8.9 per cent under us. Here is a good one, because we have been hearing about working people: average real wage growth between March 1983 and March 1996 was minus 1.8 per cent—take that home to the working family and smoke it. Under the coalition between March 1996 and June 2007 it was plus 21.5 per cent. Don’t leave, Senator Arbib, you should be listening to this. Under Labor in March 1996, the unemployment rate was 8.2 per cent. Under the coalition, it was 4.2 per cent. The number of long-term unemployed under Labor was 197,900 people. Under the coalition, 66,700. Australians at work under the Labor government, 8.3 million; under the coalition, 10.5 million. I could go on and on. It goes on with the same thing: Labor does not know how to manage.

Labor have only just arrived and the first thing they do is completely misread the economic situation and start talking up inflation—the inflation genie is out of the bottle—even though every other country on earth is talking it down. The Labor Party in Australia were talking it up because apparently we live in splendid isolation from the rest of the world. What happened? They got it wrong, not just wrong but overwhelmingly wrong. What is the next thing they did? They talked it down and it came down at a rate of knots, and our dollar fell out of bed. This is Labor Party economic management. Then they kick-start the economy with Christmas presents. It is just bizarre what Australia has got itself in for. This is the sort of economic management they are up to. They were not going to help pensioners, now they are going to give it to them before Christmas. They have not got a clue what they are up to.

Every time I see Mr Swan, I feel like I am looking at a rabbit in the spotlight of a car. It is amazing. We had Paul Woolley, formerly of the IMF, talking about financial market dysfunctionality. But, no, the Labor Party were not going to talk about that. It was brought up at Senate estimates on 20 February 2008. Mr Hyden told the Labor Party. They had no clue about that. They did not think there was a problem coming. Everybody was saying to them, ‘There is a train wreck coming down the road to you.’ They could not pick it. They could not smell it. They did not have a clue, even though Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was saying it—‘No, he must be wrong as well.’ The Bank for International Settlements was saying it. Not one of these tea leaves did the Labor Party have the capacity to read. Now Australia is at the behest of this.

When we saw Mr Swan walking around the floor at Wall Street he looked like a kid in Wonderworld. ‘All these bells, lights and whistles. If only I could play with a few of them.’ He is one of the people running our country. It is bizarre. I have been harder on them than some of my colleagues about the package that they announced the other night. But I honestly believe, and I might be out on my own on this, that this is going to quoted back to them—this wondrous financial package. There are so many things here that show they just do not have a clue what they are up to. They have underwritten the banks—that is great—but they do not have a clue what it will cost. They pluck these ideas out of the air in the middle of the night. They have no idea how to put them down. In one announcement they have taken away half the surplus, and not one major infrastructure project was included in it—not one thing that will deliver a return to the economy.

They are nice people; they just do not have a clue. Look at their frontbench. Who are the predominant people on their frontbench with experience in small business or any business, or run anything, anything at all? They have not got a clue because there is no-one with any experience of running anything. But they are running the nation, and now it is showing. Whatever they are doing at the moment, you know it is going to be readjusted and that it is misinformed. Unfortunately, the people who will pay at the end of the day are the Australian taxpayers—Australian working families who each week go to work on Monday and Tuesday to pay their taxes and believe in some sort of oversight and some sort of stewardship. Halfway through their first term, they have already blown half their surplus. Once it is gone, we will be back in power and we will have to sweep up the pieces again.

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