Thursday, 17 October 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. After the IMF downgraded Australia's growth outlook for this year by four times more than downgrades for advanced economies as a whole, the chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Mr Innes Willox, said: 'Our economy needs a spark to regain momentum.' Mr Willox called for an acceleration of shovel-ready infrastructure investment and public works and the bringing forward of income tax relief. Is Mr Willox correct?
In this business there's always a variety of people who have a variety of views on what should or shouldn't happen. We have a plan; we work to a plan to build a stronger economy and to create more jobs. This includes substantial income tax relief. It includes an ambitious $100 billion infrastructure investment pipeline. It includes an ambitious free trade agenda, which is designed to help our exporting businesses sell more Australian products and services around the world and create more jobs here in Australia. It includes our plan to bring the costs of electricity down. It includes our plan to make it easier to do business in Australia by reducing the cost of doing business through our deregulation agenda. When it comes to infrastructure, it's a matter of public record that we are prepared to move sooner on those projects that the state and territory governments are able to move sooner on, where that makes sense. It is also a matter of record that some time ago the Prime Minister wrote to premiers and chief ministers to invite them to work with the Commonwealth to identify those projects that can be delivered sooner.
We will never do what the Labor Party did, which was to recklessly throw money out the door on putting pink batts into houses, which then had to be taken out because the roofs were burning. And, do you know what, the beds were burning too! We're not going to go and spend billions of dollars on school halls that were not required. We are going to invest Australian taxpayers' money wisely on economy-enhancing, productivity-enhancing infrastructure that will build a stronger future. That is our responsibility. That is what we will be doing. Clearly, if the Labor Party had won the election, they would have increased the tax burden on the economy by $387 billion, which would have cost jobs and would have hurt families around Australia. We will stick to our plan. We will not be pushed around by the Labor Party, which has a very bad track record.
After the IMF said, 'The monetary policy cannot be the only game in town', the former Liberal Treasurer Mr Peter Costello warned: 'Monetary policy has run its race.' Given the minister's earlier answers, does this mean that Mr Costello is a socialist?
Honourable senators interjecting—
What I also can tell you about Mr Costello is that he is opposed to Labor's high-taxing, high-spending agenda, because Mr Costello, like every single person on this side of the chamber, knows that Labor's agenda would have hurt the economy and cost jobs and, indeed, it would have left every Australian family worse off. We will continue to stick to our sensible, balanced plan to build a stronger economy to ensure that the Australian economy is as resilient as possible. Just because the Labor Party can't get their socialist agenda up, it doesn't mean that our plan for lower taxes, more infrastructure, more free trade agreements and low electricity prices is not a plan that will make the economy stronger. Of course it will.
I think there are a whole range of people considering their political ideology right now. The RBA Governor, the IMF, state and territory governments, charities and business are all calling for the government to stimulate the economy. When will the government finally take action to boost the Australian economy?
I know that the Labor Party is allergic to tax cuts. Let me tell you something about tax cuts: tax cuts leave more money in people's pockets. That stimulates the economy. I'll say it to you again, because we haven't had any questions recently about wages growth: effective wages growth under our government is substantially higher than it was under yours, because what matters to the Australian people is their take-home pay. Their take-home pay is higher (1) because the real wages growth is higher than it was under Labor and (2) because we have put the money that they've worked hard for back into their pockets through $300 billion worth of income tax relief. More money in workers' pockets stimulates the economy, and you were against it. You went to the last election campaigning for higher taxes on income, on investment, on housing, on energy, on anything that moved, and the Australian people condemned you for it. They voted to keep you out of government because of it. (Time expired)