Senate debates

Wednesday, 10 May 2023



7:35 pm

Photo of Matt O'SullivanMatt O'Sullivan (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I was interested to read Robert Gottliebsen's article in the Australian. In his time as a journalist, he's seen nearly half a century of budgets handed down by Treasurers on both sides of politics, first in 1974. He's a wealth of wisdom when it comes to politics and certainly when it comes to issues of the economy and the budget. His article is titled, 'I've seen 49 budgets, Chalmers' one is quite unique'. He writes:

… given the big spending of the government, I believe the balance of probability is that inflation will not fall as expected in the budget and there's a risk that a shocked Reserve Bank will not cut rates and may even be forced to raise them. The blame will sit squarely on government spending. If interest rates don't fall as anticipated, or even rise, consumer spending will be restrained and some of the government projections will be disrupted. It may be forced to raise taxes. Higher income and asset rich people, watch out.

This is the high wire act that the Treasurer is performing with the economy and, therefore, with Australian families. After less than a year of Labor in office, government spending will increase by $185 billion. What this budget needed was a budget that reduced inflation and reined in spending to combat the cost-of-living crisis facing all Australians. Instead, Labor is trying to spend its way out of the cost-of-living crisis. Instead of making life easier for families, this budget only makes life harder for Australian families to the tune of $25,000 per year. That's what Australian families are going to be facing. This is for small businesses, self-funded retirees and mortgage holders. The costs of running their businesses, running their families and managing their budgets are going up.

The other coming challenge to the budget and, therefore, for the government is the Commonwealth payment to the states and territories, the GST distribution. Right now, on this issue, the Treasurer is being all things to all people, but soon the bell will toll. The new New South Wales government is at the starting gate, waiting to get its hands on WA's GST distribution, a hard-fought gain by many on this side of politics. I pay particular credit to my WA colleagues who, at the time—I wasn't here, so it was pre my time—fought extremely hard for that outcome. If New South Wales is at the starting gate, you can bet your bottom dollar that Victoria and South Australia won't be far behind in putting their hands out for more.

The Treasurer must commit to protecting the existing GST arrangements for Western Australians, for Western Australia. We haven't heard that as yet. Western Australia will not countenance our state being worse off than it was before the GST distribution was fixed. It should be remembered that without the changes made by the previous coalition government, we would have had a ludicrous situation where Western Australia's GST revenue share would have fallen to 16c in the dollar in 2022-23 and 10c—that's right—in this next year. The small budget surplus announced yesterday comes off the back of a hardworking resources industry in this country from states like Western Australia. It's an industry that allowed Australia to sail through the global financial crisis. It was the same industry that made sure Australia's economy didn't suffer, comparable to other Western countries during the COVID pandemic. It's a credit to those industries that saw their workplaces continue throughout the COVID pandemic. There were still flights going out. They were flying people in and out of those mine sites, delivering for Australians.

The government likes to talk about being responsible. Senator Ayres was speaking about earlier this morning. However, when it comes to my state of Western Australia, they are anything but responsible. All those new MPs elected on the other side are silently standing by. We haven't heard one Western Australian on that side of the chamber, both here and in the other place, calling for this to be locked in, calling for this to be enshrined and asking the government to make sure that there is no change to Western Australia's GST. (Time expired)


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