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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3470


Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (21:19): Well done, and I wish the previous speaker very well in her future endeavours for what sounds like a very worthy cause, as is my delivery here tonight. I feel it is my duty to bring attention to Labor's poor performance in managing the economy, of which you would be very well aware, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Don't take a liberty with me being in the chair! The member for Wright has the call.

Mr BUCHHOLZ: And when it comes to managing the economy the Australian public have got the raw prawn on a number of things. When it comes to the business sector, I think at the moment we are struggling with record low confidence levels out there at the moment. Why would the business confidence be low at the moment?

Mr Champion: What have you done?

Mr BUCHHOLZ: Why, Member for Wakefield, would you ask that question? I am not making this stuff up. Just go to the Consumer Confidence Index, a document that has been keeping a record of confidence levels since before the Great Depression. I can assure you that we are an all-time record low since that index has been kept. But do not take my word for it, go and look it up for yourself. We only need to look at the words of the Treasurer, when things he says just do not get followed through or things that he says are a misrepresentation. Take, for example, on 12 August on 7:30 when the Treasury was asked about the carbon tax and this was his response: 'We have made our position very clear. We have ruled it out.' There is no other way that you can interpret that. On 15 August on Meet the Pressa Channel 10 journalist asked the Treasurer: 'Can you tell us exactly when will Labor put a price on carbon?' Wayne Swan's response was: 'Well, certainly we reject this hysterical allegation that somehow we are moving towards a carbon tax, we reject that.'

Let us take a look at another comedy of errors the Treasurer has participated in. Labor has not delivered on jobs. The Treasurer promised that this budget was all about jobs:

Well, it is jobs, jobs and jobs. It's a bigger and better trained workforce.

That was what Wayne Swan said at the press conference in the budget lock-up on 10 May. He went on to say it was in fact half a million new jobs:

We will see the creation of an additional 500,000 jobs in the next couple of years.

That was in Wayne Swan's interview with Hugh Riminton on Meet the Press on the Ten Network in May 2011.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member will refer to the individuals by their appropriate titles.

Mr BUCHHOLZ: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. In an interview with Fran Kelly on 30 January 2012, so just recently, the Treasurer admitted that this was yet another broken promise. Fran Kelly made the comment:

In terms of positives though, the government positively forecast a half a million new jobs over the next two years would be created. Given the zero jobs growth last year, are you still confident that that figures holds? That (it) can be achieved?

The Treasurer's comment was, 'Well, certainly we will do less than that.' That interview with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National was on 30 January 2012. Here is a fact: from October 2011 until December 2011, some 37,000 jobs were lost in the Australian economy, leaving the number of people employed in December 2011 at slightly less than the year before. So when you hear the Treasurer go out and make these comments that Labor have created all of these jobs, go and have a quick look—

Mr Champion interjecting

Mr BUCHHOLZ: Member for Wakefield, go and have a quick look at the jobs growth for last year. Do you know what a jobs growth rate looks like? It looks like it is zero at the moment. So when they crack on about jobs, jobs, jobs—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member needs to be very careful about unparliamentary language as well. If people are listening on the radio and I let that go through to the keeper, you need to be mindful of who is listening. We are in parliament. The member for Wright has the call.

Mr BUCHHOLZ: Absolutely. We are in parliament and I think these comments need to be made.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: With the appropriate language, that is all I am saying.

Mr BUCHHOLZ: Sure. There was zero jobs growth last year. So when the Treasurer comes out and speaks about these jobs that are being created, when there is zero jobs growth then the same amount of jobs have been lost at the other end. It is a very simple formula to adopt. There were no jobs created in 2011. Since the beginning of January 2012, over 5,000 job losses have been announced, and many are at some of Australia's biggest employers, such as ANZ and Macquarie Bank. So I encourage people from the other side, from the government, when they get their lines delivered to them by ministers and they are saying that these jobs, jobs, jobs are there, to open up the front pages of the Australian or the Financial Review. Do not just take the coalition's word for it. Go and read about the thousands of jobs that are being lost while Labor is in government. When Labor claims interest rates have been lower under their watch, this is also not correct. On average, effective interest rates paid by some homebuyers and small businesses were lower under the coalition from 1996 to 2007 than they have been under Labor since the 2007 election. When I use these figures I am talking about the variable rate, the standard mortgage rate. Labor uses the indicative term of cash rate. The unfortunate thing about that is that no-one can borrow money at the cash rate. I cannot go in and borrow money for my new house or for a new car or for a new truck at the cash rate. So we use the variable rate. Under the coalition, the average standard variable mortgage rate was 24 basis points lower than under Labor. Under the coalition, from March 1996 to November 2007 the standard variable mortgage rate was 7.26 per cent. Under Labor, from 2007 to January 2012 it was 7.51 per cent. For the Treasurer, under a typical $300,000 mortgage the difference would represent savings of $720 a year or $60 a month. Under the coalition, the small business unsecured overdraft rate was 134 base points lower than Labor. So when we look at the average small business unsecured overdraft rate, under the coalition from March 1996 to November 2007 the unsecured overdraft rate was 8.89 per cent. With Labor in office from December 2007 to January 2012 it was 10.23 per cent. So for a typical small business unsecured overdraft loan of $200,000 the difference would represent a savings of $2,680 a year. That is $223 a month. The spread between the RBA cash rate and the mortgage home borrowings rate was significantly lower under the coalition. In November 2007 the spread between the RBA cash rate and the average standard variable mortgage rate was 180 base points but in January 2012 under a Labor government the spread was 305 points. In November 2007 the spread between the RBA cash rate and the average small business unsecured overdraft rate was 355 base points but in January 2012 the spread was over 600 base points.

Looking at the size of government, the government has chosen to use revenue to GDP as its yardstick for the size of government. But the more appropriate benchmark is the ratio of spending to GDP, because it is primarily the result of government policy. The coalition left spending at just 23.1 per cent of GDP. Under Labor, the ratio of spending to GDP blew out to 26 per cent. Spending under Labor will remain well above the coalition's benchmarks right through the forward estimates. I have the statistics here.

In the time that is available I would like to cover—well, I cannot because there are just too many. I have 19 new taxes that I want to speak to. I am not going to get enough time to talk about those. But I can talk about the deficit; I can basically bring that back to four record deficits. We can talk about the debt to GDP ratio—7.7 per cent. The government always makes the point that it is not a lot of money. Well, guess what. Debt is relative to your capacity to service the debt. So when you are running four structural deficits, and the only way you can service a debt is through surpluses, the chance of this government being able to service a 7.7 per cent GDP debt ratio is highly unlikely, especially when you look at the forecast for the net interest payments. The government is always keen to compare our net debt with other developed countries like Japan, USA, UK and Europe. These countries are all in economic difficulty. It is more appropriate to compare Australia with the fastest runners in the field, not the slowest. There are a number of developed and commodity exporting countries with balance sheets in the black, such as Chile, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Finland and Norway. Their figures are far more impressive than ours.

The productivity returns of the country at the moment are ordinary. With reference to Australia's credit rating, Australia's credit ratings are done by a comparative rating. Why is it that this government boasts about having a triple-A credit rating when there is debt we cannot service and no money in the bank? We had those factors when the coalition was in government. I look forward to the opportunity to speak again. (Time expired)