Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. When asked in February whether he could commit to keeping company tax cuts all the way through until the election, the Prime Minister said: 'Yes, absolutely.' On 31 July, the front page of The Daily Telegraph read: 'I won't flip on tax: PM: Exclusive: Turnbull tells colleagues he'll defy critics on big business policy'. This afternoon the Prime Minister stood next to Treasurer Morrison and the Minister for Finance to announce that the government had junked the centrepiece of its economic plan. So, now that you've junked your enterprise tax plan, what is the Turnbull government's economic plan?
I can confirm that in February 2018 that was the Prime Minister's intention and the government's intention, and it was, of course, part of our overall national plan for a stronger economy and more jobs, which is working. You've got to remember that, when we came into government in September 2013, we inherited a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a rapidly deteriorating budget position.
Over the last five years, as a result of the work of, first, the Abbott government and, since then, the Turnbull government, the economy has generated more than a million new jobs. We have cut taxes for 3.3 million small and medium-sized businesses. We have delivered tax relief of up to $530 per year for working Australians. We've cracked down on multinational tax avoidance. We have delivered record jobs growth, including a record 400,000 jobs last year and, of course, more than a million jobs since September 2013. We are getting Australians off welfare and into jobs, with the lowest number of working-age Australians on welfare in 25 years, and we are getting more young Australians into work with our PaTH youth jobs program. We're returning the budget to surplus a year ahead of schedule. We have delivered the biggest reforms to child care. We have delivered new export deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We have guaranteed essential services, with record funding for hospitals and schools.
We have listed or amended 1,700 medicines on the PBS. Remember when the Labor Party was in government? They made such a mess of the budget they had to stop listing new medicines on the PBS. When you deliver a stronger economy and more jobs and you collect more revenue for government, do you know what happens? You can afford to list more important medicines on the PBS, and that is, of course, what we are doing. We have guaranteed Medicare, with record funding and record GP bulk-billing rates of 86.1 per cent. We are investing a record $75 billion in congestion-busting infrastructure, and the list goes on. (Time expired)
Opposition senators interjecting—
For nearly a year, Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Frydenberg said the National Energy Guarantee was the centrepiece of the Turnbull government's energy plan. Now that the government has junked the National Energy Guarantee, what is the Turnbull government's energy plan?
This government always works to secure the best possible outcomes, but we also know that, with a Senate in which we do not have majority support, in the end there is a limit to how much reform can be secured, as necessary as it is for the nation. Whether it comes to generating stronger economic growth and creating more jobs, or whether it is driving down electricity prices and increasing the reliability of our energy supplies, we continue to leave no stone unturned. I don't think that anyone can reasonably argue that we have not done our absolute best across the policy areas that the senator has mentioned.
Our plan is a very comprehensive plan for a stronger economy and more jobs. Our plan is a very comprehensive plan for lower electricity prices and more reliable energy supplies. We of course will now adjust our plan, moving forward. Given the attitudes taken by the Senate, in the end, we're realists and pragmatists and we'll keep working. (Time expired)
Prime Minister Turnbull has now junked the centrepiece of his economic policy and he's junked the centrepiece of his energy policy. Isn't it clear the Turnbull government is so consumed by the chaos of its own making that it has no plan for Australia?
I completely reject the premise of the question. As I've said, when we came into government we inherited a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a rapidly deteriorating budget position left behind by the Labor Party. The budget was deteriorating by $3 billion a week in the 11 weeks between the budget in May 2013 and the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook. As a result of our economic policy, economic growth is stronger, employment growth is stronger and the unemployment rate is well below where people had predicted it would be. The budget is in a much stronger position than when we came into government, on a much stronger forward trajectory than when we came into government. Our plan is working.
What is the alternative? The alternative is the anti-business, anti-opportunity, anti-jobs, politics-of-envy, high-taxing agenda of Mr Shorten, which would lead to less investment, lower growth, fewer jobs, higher unemployment and lower wages. The Australian people will not want to go for that sort of socialist agenda. That is certainly our very strong recommendation.