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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 14727


Mr TAYLOR (Hume) (15:54): In the iconic movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an arrogant Pittsburgh TV weatherman. During an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, he finds himself in a time loop repeating the same day again and again. Eventually Phil, not surprisingly, becomes depressed and makes more and more desperate and drastic attempts to end the time loop.

Question time and MPIs for the last two weeks have been some kind of bad Groundhog Day. Not only have we completely lost track of the date; I am losing track of whether it is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. But I have spent some time this week pondering why we are caught in this time loop. Why are we caught in this time loop, repeating day after day, as Rumpole over there asks the same questions over and over again, with nothing new—

Mr Perrett: Mr Deputy Speaker—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): Order! The member will refer to members by their title.

Mr TAYLOR: I apologise, Mr Deputy Speaker. The member for Isaacs asks the same question over and over again, with absolutely nothing new of substance emerging. But then it struck me: Labor is stuck in a time loop not because it is Groundhog Day but because Bill Shorten had announced that this was the year of ideas—but he did not have any. It seems to me that those opposite were so sick of the year of ideas that they had handed question time over to the member for Isaacs, their Rumpole of the Bailey, because everyone else is sick of 2015, the year of ideas.

What have they done in this grand year of ideas? The first thing they did was spend $60 billion that they did not have. If you want to spend more, the bad news for those opposite is that you have to tax more. It is true—you can defer that to the next generation by carrying more debt. But if you do that it costs a lot more later on, because you have to pay interest on the debt. It is true that they have found $5 billion to make up for that $60 billion. It does not add up. Sixty minus five equals 55. Where did they find that $5 billion?

The first place they found it in this great year of ideas was to put a tax on smokes—we have never heard of that before; that is new!—hurting those who can least afford it. We get lectured every day by those opposite about fairness. What they want to do is put a tax on smokes. Bad news, guys. Let me explain a very simple fact to you: those who are worst off in society are often also smokers. Many of us would prefer that they did not smoke, but they do. If you want to hit those who smoke with a new tax, you are hitting those who can least afford it.

The second big idea they had to pay for their $60 billion of spending was a one-size-fits-all multinational tax policy. They decided that they were going to impose a multinational tax policy on a company regardless of the make-up of that company, which will mean jobs and investment go overseas. I have worked for many of these companies and I know how they work. If you are going to impose a one-size-fits-all tax policy on them, they will simply go.

Their next big idea was a $200 carbon tax. If you are going to raise a carbon target to 45 per cent, we know from modelling that you commissioned that the only way to do that is to impose a carbon tax or a carbon price of over $200. The last time you had that big idea was when you imposed a carbon tax of $23. This is almost 10 times worse, and that is your big idea for this year. Meanwhile, we have been getting on with the job of free trade agreements, telecommunications investment, infrastructure investment and the agricultural competitiveness white paper, and on Monday you will hear about the innovation statement.

With any luck, like Phil Connors, Labor will go away on their break and find virtue in looking for ideas in the interests of Australians in the next year, 2016.