Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Matters of Public Importance


5:33 pm

Photo of Amanda StokerAmanda Stoker (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Ah, the Australian Greens party! It's hard to know sometimes whether they're for real, isn't it? You can always count on them, though, to demand that more money be applied to the least productive members of our society, day in, day out, of course to be taken by force from those people who do produce until there remains no incentive whatsoever for anybody to produce anything. Why would you, when not producing is rewarded but producing is to be penalised harshly? That's some economic strategy!

None of this should be taken as a judgement on those people who, because of circumstances beyond their control, can't work. We on the coalition side believe in giving a hand to those people who are doing it tough, but in a way that is sustainable, in a way that doesn't undermine the important ethic that says all of us must take responsibility for our lives and that working is not optional for people of working age and capacity. So, while this government has provided help to those people whose work has been affected and disrupted by the pandemic—either to keep them connected to their work, with JobKeeper, or to provide temporary relief for unemployment by using JobSeeker—we make no apology for being focused on helping people back into work rather than providing or generating a lifestyle or a culture where a life on welfare is a comfortable choice. But that's the Greens' approach! That's what the Australian Greens party advocates for in this place, day in and day out. Do you know what, Madam Acting Deputy President O'Neill? The idea that we should all live comfortably on welfare while contributing nothing is corrosive to our pride, it is corrosive to our self-respect and it is corrosive to our prosperity as a nation.

I want to come back to the words of this matter of public importance. It would be laughable if they weren't serious. They call this the Morrison government's 'budget for millionaires'. Are they for real? The Greens could not be more out of touch. There are tax cuts for everyone, and an effective doubling up of the tax assistance that's provided to low- and middle-income earners. They get both the tax cut and the extension of the low-income tax offset. We're effectively doubling up on the help that we are providing to give incentives to people on low and middle incomes to do as much work as they can get their hands on. I acknowledge that's difficult at this point in time. What we need is more jobs, and that's what this budget is all about. This budget is about jobs, jobs, jobs—jobs for young people, jobs for older people and jobs so that the dignity of work can be restored after the disruption of COVID.

But here's what the Australian Greens party just do not get. Where do they think jobs come from? They don't come from a magical job tree and they don't come out of a magical job hat or a magical job pudding. The Greens complain incessantly about anything that might provide any assistance to any business to do what they do. But, hang on: where do jobs come from? Jobs come from viable businesses. And so they get up here and bleat about assistance to anything in a corporate structure. I think the words they used here were 'corporate handouts'. Well, for the small businesses in my home state of Queensland who are given incentives in this budget to take on more staff—be it an apprentice or a young worker—that's not a corporate handout. That's real, practical assistance to get a person started in work.

For the small business that's trying to find out whether or not it's viable to do a fit-out of its premises so that it can take on more clients, or for the farmer who is trying to work out whether or not he can afford a new harvester—trying to work out whether he can invest—the assistance we're providing by way of making it possible to deduct immediately the cost of those assets from their tax bill is not a corporate handout. That's facilitating investment in the jobs of Australians. I cannot believe that there would be people who come in here, day after day, with their economic gobbledegook which says you cannot provide support to businesses but jobs magically appear. The thing is that we need strong, viable, profitable and sustainable businesses for the long term if we're going to get Australians back into work.

Australians don't want to be on JobKeeper and Australians don't want to be on JobSeeker. Australians want a job that allows them to achieve freedom of choice and the freedom to be able to support their families on their terms, rather than being confined by a welfare life.

To those members of the Greens with their magical job tree I say, no, that's not how it works. It's okay to support the businesses of Australia—overwhelmingly small businesses, I might add—because it is those businesses that underpin the prosperity of every Australian. The word 'corporate' is not a dirty word. Did you get the memo, Australian Greens? A corporation is just a group of people who've got together to build something great for this country, to produce something great for this country. What do they produce? They might be manufacturers producing items that we sell overseas. They might produce the services that we sell to Australians or around the world. They might produce the resources that those opposite find so very, very offensive but that power all of the things that we enjoy in our modern lifestyle and wouldn't want to give up. They are the resources that produce the energy that we need to run this country and to sustain jobs. We don't apologise for it; we're proud of it.

When I hear that 890,000 Queensland businesses will be eligible for business tax incentives, including temporarily deducting all of their eligible expenses with no asset limits, I think that's a wonderful thing, because that's an investment in Queenslanders' jobs. The budget increases total payments to Queensland by $8.1 billion over the forward estimates, and every single dollar is an investment in the infrastructure that produces jobs. It's an investment in the infrastructure that improves our productivity, which also produces jobs. It's an investment in the futures of Queenslanders. They will not have a life on welfare, a life of hopelessness, a life of working out whether or not one can get by on whatever the government decides is the welfare rate for the time being, until it runs out of money because it has no plan to make this country prosperous and productive. That's what the Australian Greens argue for every day of the week.

No, this is a path to economic recovery, a path for all Australians to choose their own adventure of aspiration, to decide what they want out of life, to decide for themselves what careers they want, to have real choice in the jobs that they take on, to be able to choose to travel—once our borders open again, of course—to be able to choose to invest in a home, to educate their children the way they wish. This path offers real choice, the kind of choice that no life confined to welfare, in the way that the Australian Greens seem so determined to inflict upon Australians, could ever deliver.


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