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Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Page: 5459


Mr IAN MACFARLANE (Groom) (21:49): I rise today to speak on what the Treasurer spruiked as a very Labor budget. He was spot on. This budget is quintessentially Labor. It is about taxes, spending and debt. Hiking up taxes and sending the country into the red: it really does not get any more Labor than that. It is also a budget that proves how out of touch both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are with everyday Australians, because it fails the fundamental test of easing the cost-of-living pressures for Australian families, who face higher prices everyday—higher electricity prices; higher gas prices; higher water prices; higher bus fares; higher food prices; higher cost-of-living pressures. But nothing in this budget addresses those things.

The simple truth so clearly exposed in this budget is that Labor cannot manage Australia's finances. This government and its predecessor, led by the member for Griffith, has made such a hash of the budget process that Australian families are being slugged again and again in order to paper over the black holes created by this government's mismanagement. The Treasurer assures us that he will deliver a surplus in 2012. He is so fond of talking about this budget of the future, perhaps embarrassed by what he has presented to the parliament so far, that he does not seem to want to talk about the current budget. How can we have any faith that a surplus will be delivered in 2012 when my youngest daughter, who I must admit is only two years older than the member for Longman, has never seen a Labor budget in surplus in her lifetime? From the decision to impose a freeze on the family benefit supplement, which will affect families earning more than $45,000 a year, to the imposition of an array of new taxes, this Labor budget has nothing for families at all.

My electorate of Groom is an area that is well on its way to recovery in the wake of the floods of earlier this year. That is no thanks to the Queensland Labor Bligh government, which has kept the millions—in fact, quarter of a billion—of dollars in donations tied up in red tape and incompetence. It is not the Bligh government or the Gillard government that has gone out and done something to relieve the pain of those people in my electorate who were affected by the floods in January. I, my office and the good graces of the people of Toowoomba have helped those people affected by floods. It is a great disappointment to me that the Prime Minister of Australia has driven six times past the houses of people in Oakey who are yet to have their insurance claims for the flood settled. Did she stop? No. Did she talk to them? No. Did she ask the Assistant Treasurer to see if he could sort out the problems? No. It is me and my good officers and the people who support me who are out there fighting for the people of Oakey so that they can have their insurance claims settled. It is an indictment on both the Labor government of Queensland and the Labor government of Australia that neither the Premier nor the Prime Minister have lifted a finger.

But the good news is that we will win, no thanks to the government. It is the community spirit and the community based fundraising that will give those people relief, and I have supported them along the way. While the homes are being rebuilt, there is one critical piece of infrastructure that will not be fixed so easily. I wonder how many people in Australia right now are operating with half of what they had before Christmas—and that is what Toowoomba is operating on: half of the road to Brisbane that we had before Christmas. The Prime Minister has not driven that road. She chooses to fly in. She lands at Oakey, drives past all these flooded houses, does not stop, comes into Toowoomba, makes herself out to be a hero and then leaves again. She does not actually understand that Toowoomba is connected to the east by a range crossing that was severely damaged by the flood, and her government has no commitment to fix it. The commitment the Howard government made was spending $43 million to acquire the corridor, and we then allocated $700 million to begin construction. We lost the election in 2007 and with that the people of Toowoomba have been left high and dry. With a bit of luck and, again, no thanks to the federal government, we might have two lanes to Brisbane by Christmas next year.

The impact on my electorate is of course disastrous and the impact on the economic development of Western Queensland will be affected as well. Whilst this government is happy to take the PRRT money from the oil and gas enterprises to the west of there, they are not prepared to return a single solitary cent—not a cent. I see the member opposite lift her head—no money from the PRRT collected in Queensland will be returned in infrastructure spending in Queensland.

Ms Smyth: I was checking the time, actually.

Mr IAN MACFARLANE: Not a cent. You want to check your own facts. You should read the budget, because it says that there is not a cent for the people of Western Queensland. For those trucks that travel through Toowoomba, not a cent will be returned from all the dollars that the Bligh government collects and all the dollars that the Gillard government hopes to collect.

Ms Smyth: Thanks for your support on the flood levy.

Mr IAN MACFARLANE: I am sure the people of Toowoomba would be happy to pay a flood levy were they to get a cent of that flood levy back—just one cent would be good. We will take one cent, but we get nothing of course.

And we all know that new taxes are part of this new budget. Taxes will be applied not only through a flood levy but through an LPG levy, through a CNG levy, through an LNG levy, through a carbon levy, through the mining tax levy, of course, and through the PRRT, the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax. Every time the people of my electorate look up they pay a new tax and get nothing back.

This is a tax and spend government. It is a government that has a history of being unable to manage its money. It is a government that has managed to take a $70 billion cash in the bank operation to a $107 billion debt. It is a government that does not know the value of money and does not respect the taxpayers of Australia, who have to earn that money before they contribute it to a government that wastes it.

Missing from this budget are the figures of the carbon tax—this much vaunted tax that will change nothing in terms of emissions of the world. It will change nothing in terms of lowering greenhouse gases in the world, because all it will do is move industry from Australia to China, to Russia, to India, to Indonesia, to Korea and to all of those countries that have made it clear in the last few days that they are not going to continue to tax their industries under any suggestion that there is a global agreement on lower greenhouse gas emissions. Those countries have made it absolutely clear that they will not sign up to the extra emissions targets of the Kyoto agreement.

So, here we have a government in Australia that delivers a budget that drives Australia further into debt, a budget that offers Australian families no hope but for higher taxes, and a budget where families know that this government cannot manage to spend the money in a way that produces a tangible outcome for all Australians. Then the government watches as every other country steps back from an agreement on lowering greenhouse gas emissions while Australia is quite prepared to continue to tax our jobs and our industries while those industries move overseas.

This budget is a disgrace. And the disgrace of this budget is only surpassed by the government that handed it down. We have a Treasurer who has no idea of what it means to manage an economy, to deliver a budget in surplus—a surplus that would give hope to the Australian people that this government actually knows the value of money and a government that can actually put in place projects that work.

In the 15 seconds left, I will talk a little about the insulation scheme that cost millions. I will talk a little about the Building the Education Revolution that wasted billions. In the end Australians know that this budget continues the waste, increases taxes and does not deliver any hope for the future.

I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later date.

Leave granted.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs D'Ath ): The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate is made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Main Committee adjourned at 22: 0 1