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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 287


Senator McKENZIE (Victoria) (17:51): It gives me great pleasure today to rise once again to set the record straight, as senator after senator from the ALP strides in here with their fictional assessment of what our economic plan as a government is for our nation. Senator O'Neill does it every time. Senator O'Neill came in here and once again put on the record the lies about our education spend. I am sorry, Senator O'Neill—well, actually, I am quite rapt with it—but right now we have, as a federal government, record spending on schools, despite the economic challenges your government left us with. So, please, pick up the budget and read it. I am sure the minister's office would be very happy to help walk you through it with a special briefing on how much we are investing in Australian schools for Australian taxpayers and for our economic future.

I find it very difficult to be lectured—or should I say hectored—by the Labor Party on our government's economic plan. We have to have good economic management. It is essential. We have a very generous social safety net in this country and we need to have a strong economic plan to be able to invest in infrastructure, both physical and social, to build a strong future. I think it is highly ridiculous that the Labor Party chooses to critique us, when we just want to take a walk through, let's say, the past Treasurer's way. Let us have a look at Wayne Swan's commitment to budget surpluses and to dealing with debt, deficit and spending. In his first budget speech he claimed he would deliver 'a surplus built on disciplined spending'. If only it was so. The result of that promise by the Treasurer was a $27 billion deficit. In 2009-10, Swan's budget night address told Australians that the nation was 'on a path to surplus by 2015-16'. Hallelujah! We should be there. The result was a $54.5 billion deficit. In 2010-11, the final budget under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd mark 1, the Treasurer said that the Labor budget's program would see 'the budget return to surplus in three years time'. Fantastic, former Treasurer Swan: if only you had actually approached your Treasury oversight with any sense of an economic plan and policy which would actually help to achieve that.

I could go on and on and on, but I am short of time and I really want to get the positive story out of today's MPI. Rather than go through the litany of failures under Labor, I want to talk about our strong economic plan and a Prime Minister that is absolutely committed to ensuring that we have at our ready the instruments and the levers to build economic growth, backing hardworking small businesses—that is exactly what we are doing. We know that small business is the engine room of our economy. We are cutting small business tax rates so that they can reinvest in their businesses. Often they are family owned enterprises.

Again, Senator O'Neill, I have to let you know that we are cracking down on tax avoidance. So let us get the little mythology that we are not doing that out of the chamber. We are cracking down on tax avoidance because we want a fair tax system, a tax system where tax is as low as possible and where those who are seeking to avoid paying their fair share are prosecuted and captured. We are investing in social infrastructure—guaranteed funding for hospitals and schools, not promises on a whim. These are things that we can control, where we can say, 'We commit to funding these things going forward so that we can deliver high-quality education and health care to our citizens.'

We are backing our future. We are backing young Australians. We have new jobs pathways so that young Australians who want to get experience in different industries have a pathway to work. That is backing our future by ensuring that young Australians can get useful experience in terms of an intern program. I think it is a great economic plan, and I just do not see why the Labor Party does not support jobs and growth going forward so that we can build a strong Australia, a strong economy, together.