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Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Page: 4693

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (12:33): We are now approaching almost one year since the Prime Minister admitted in a very rare moment of honesty that this Labor government had lost its way. Since then, this government has gone from bad to worse, with the Prime Minister taking our nation further and further off course. Due to the most reckless and irresponsible spending in our nation's history, in just over four budgets this Labor government will run up combined deficits of over $150 billion. To put this number in some perspective—$150 billion of combined deficits—let's take a $100 bill. If you laid out $100 bills from end to end, to get to $150 billion they would stretch around the globe not once but six times. Then we have the grand promise of returning the budget to surplus. Let's just assume all the planets align and Labor are actually able to deliver their first and only budget surplus in a generation, of $3 billion. To clean up the mess that they created and to pay back the Labor deficits created over four years, they would need to duplicate this budget surplus projected for 2012-13 year after year for the next 50 years. Despite claims of belt-tightening and a tough budget, the reckless spending of this government continues unabated. To fund this, they are continuing to add to our mountain of debt by $135 million every day—day after day. This is what the Prime Minister calls moving forward. I have been allocated 15 minutes for this speech. In this 15-minute period alone, this government will have borrowed another $1,400,000. And they will continue to do so for every 15-minute period day after day, night after night, weekday and weekend, to add to our mountain of debt.

In November last year, we were told that net debt would peak at an incredible $94 billion. But then on budget night it was revealed that it had actually blown out to $107 billion. That is $107,000 million. If you look at this number quickly, it is easy to overlook how much it is. But what this debt means is that every year going forward we need to pay an interest bill of over $6 billion. That is $6,000 million every year forever until we start paying off the debt. What this means for the future is that, before we spend one single dollar on our hospitals and roads and to support our children with disabilities, we will need to pay off $6 billion in interest on Labor's debt. And this debt will mainly be paid to foreigners.

Many other members on our side have detailed the shameful waste and mismanagement of this government and the attitude of doing whatever it takes to cling to power and the future be damned. One could talk all week and only be scratching the surface of this government's waste and mismanagement. Just one of the many examples of waste and mismanagement that I would like to raise is the farcical creation of the position at the ACCC of a Petrol Commissioner. If you were looking for one of the most useless positions in our country, it would be the Petrol Commissioner. Can anyone say exactly what the Petrol Commissioner has achieved for motorists, other than being an apologist for the big oil companies and the supermarket duopoly? Consumer and competition law expert Professor Frank Zumbo has said that the position was a 'costly gimmick' and should be scrapped because of budgetary pressures. But in last week's budget it was announced that this Labor government would continue to provide another $2 million over two years to continue the Petrol Commissioner's role. This is just one example that demonstrates this government does not have a clue and is prepared to compromise our economic prosperity to cling to power.

If we are looking for ways for our nation to repair the mess that Labor has put us in and to dig us out of the hole of Labor's debt, the burden will again fall on small business. History has shown that it is small business that leads the fight back. History has shown that small business is the creator of real new jobs. History has shown that small businesses come up with the innovations to create the new products and new inventions that we rely on for our economic prosperity. Again, the nation will need to call on small business to lead us out of this Labor induced mess. But the problem we have is that Labor, being ideologically hostile to small business, has launched a jihad against the small business sector. Already, since Labor has come to power, 300,000 jobs have been lost in the small business sector.

To further demonstrate Labor's attitude to small business, the backbone of our economy, we used to have a small business minister. But this Gillard government has disgracefully downgraded the small business portfolio to that of a parliamentary secretary. Now we have the person in charge of small business, the member for Lindsay, who seems so confused that he thinks his job is to make small business smaller. He seems to be doing very well in that role with those 300,000 jobs having disappeared.

Further, what is highly disturbing is that the RBA figures show that since Labor has come to power there has been a slashing of bank lending to small and medium sized businesses by an estimated $56 billion. Further, and even more disturbingly, the Treasurer foolishly and naively allowed St George Bank, when they were taken over by Westpac, to be eliminated as a competitor to the big banks in approving loans to small business. The evidence is that the big banks have been able to bulk up their profits by gouging small business.

The RBA numbers are highly disturbing. While the banks' interest rate margins for loans to large businesses have remained steady at around two per cent, the margin on loans to small businesses—loans secured by mortgages over residential properties—has blown out to over five per cent. This means that the entire Australian small business sector is paying interest rates around three per cent higher than they would in a normally-functioning, competitive market. This is putting Australian small businesses at a competitive disadvantage against their larger competitors and, as a ball-park figure, we now have an annual profit transfer from the small business sector to the big banks of around $9 billion. And the government continues to do nothing to repair our broken competition laws to protect consumers and provide equality of opportunity for small businesses. This government's jihad on the small business sector is going to have serious repercussions for our long-term economic prosperity.

No Australian wants to see this inept government continue on its present path of stumbling from policy disaster to policy disaster. From Fuel Watch and Grocery Watch to pink batts, BER waste, solar rebates, green loans and the set-top-box giveaway the list goes on and on. And now we have the looming financial disaster of the NBN and the self-inflicted punishment of a carbon tax.

With a mountain of debt, already north of $100 billion, this country simply cannot afford this ongoing series of rolling policy disasters. So what can the most inept government in our nation's history do to get out of its current rut and prevent further damage? A good suggestion I have for every member of this government is to go and watch an old episode of the Seinfeld sitcom entitled 'The Opposite'. In this episode George Costanza sums up exactly what Labor are going through when he says:

It's not working, Jerry. It's just not working ... Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise ... every decision I've ever made, in my entire life, has been wrong. My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have—

in every aspect—

It's all been wrong.

I am sure almost every member of the Labor Party, both federally and in the states, can identify with these comments. However, Jerry Seinfeld gives George the answer. He says:

If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

So George then resolves to start doing the complete opposite of what he would normally do. He orders the opposite of his normal lunch. He boldly goes up and introduces himself to beautiful women. He stands up to bullies and he even starts to tell the truth, even when it is uncomfortable. And within a few days George Costanza finds himself dating beautiful women, he has landed a top job with the New York Yankees and he has won new-found respect with family and friends. And George credits his new-found success:

... it's all happening because I am completely ignoring every urge towards commonsense and good judgment I've ever had. This is no longer just some crazy notion. Jerry, this is my new religion.

Clearly this government should follow the lead of George Costanza. If they want to get the best results for this country then every instinct they should do the complete opposite. Think, for a minute, about how much better shape Australia and also the Labor Party would be in if they did the exact opposite of their natural instincts.

For example, when the proposal for a grocery watch scheme was floated, rather than following their natural instincts and throwing away millions in building a useless website, if they had done the exact opposite they would have saved themselves embarrassment and the taxpayer $7 million. The same goes for the pink batts scheme, the cash for clunkers, the solar rebates and the green loans program et cetera.

Then look at border protection. Of course the natural instinct of this Labor government was to abandon the policies of the Howard government. Again, if they had done the exact opposite of their natural instincts, billions of tax dollars would have been saved. Look at the Prime Minister's promise of the Epping to Parramatta rail link during the last election. I am sure the Prime Minister's natural instinct was that this would be a great political stunt, but in effect all it did was tie federal Labor more closely to the political disaster that was the New South Wales Labor government. Clearly, if the Prime Minister had done exactly the opposite of what she thought, Labor would be in a better position. Then take the set-top box program. Giving things away for free at taxpayers' expense for well above market price is a natural instinct of Labor. I am sure all Labor members thought this would be a good idea. But, as normal, it has turned out to be a farce, with Labor being lampooned from coast to coast and the public reminded of their reckless spending.

Moving forward, I call on this government to do the opposite. Rather than kowtowing to the Greens, they should stand up and oppose the carbon tax. Rather than blindly pushing ahead with the NBN, they should stop and call a cost-benefit analysis. Again, doing the opposite of what is their natural instinct will put our country in a better position. And, rather than inflict on our nation a pointless carbon tax, such a self-defeating mechanism, they should again do the complete opposite, say no and look for ways of direct action to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions.

In conclusion, for the rest of this term, no matter how long or how short that may be, if this government are going to avoid the continuation of their irrational and incompetent economic policies, the answer is very simple: they should take every instinct they have and do the complete opposite.