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Monday, 2 June 2003
Page: 15613

Mr HARTSUYKER (4:03 PM) —I was quite interested to see the motion on the tax system by the member for Burke, given the track record of members opposite when they were in government on matters of tax and the economy, and I was also interested to hear the comments that have been made on poverty traps. Since coming to office, this coalition has been absolutely committed to replacing what basically is a culture of welfare dependency with a spirit of self-reliance and to empowering people to achieve, as opposed to lowering them to the lowest common denominator. Labor policy, in comparison to that of the coalition, drags Australians down to the lowest common denominator, with some sort of misplaced notion of social justice, when all Australians really want is a fair go and an opportunity. This government offers opportunities, whereas the members opposite promote welfare dependency.

Those opposite are in a state of disarray as their traditional base deserts them. The old hackneyed Labor dogma is really wearing thin out there. As I travelled here early this morning, I listened to the AM radio program on which there was discussion of the fact that the grim reaper, Mr Roozendaal, was coming to bring a message. I understand that the members for Banks, Greenway and Lowe will be very interested in that message. I do not know the contents of the message that Mr Roozendaal has to bring, but basically the message is that the members opposite are out of touch. We talk about poverty traps, but really the best way to alleviate a poverty trap is to reduce unemployment. Labor have form on unemployment, with over one million people being unemployed at the time of Labor being in office. There is no social justice in unemployment and there is no self-esteem in unemployment, and Labor has great form there. When the member for Hotham was minister for employment, he scored pretty well on the unemployment scales—he scored a 10.3 per cent unemployment rate. He certainly was not the king of unemployment. The king of unemployment title went to the member for Brand, with a 10.9 per cent rate of unemployment.

The fact is that jobs build self-esteem, jobs empower and jobs are the way to create a better way of life and a higher living standard. This government has created over one million jobs. That is the best way out of a poverty trap, to get people back to work and to raise their self-esteem. In my electorate there is an organisation called the Men's Shed. The Men's Shed caters for men who are down on their luck and suffering the hardships of unemployment. Part of the role of that shed is to bring men together in allowing them to try and rebuild their self-esteem. That is what this government is about—providing jobs, building self-esteem and building self-reliance.

The members opposite knocked Work for the Dole. The old Labor dogma says that it is slave labour et cetera. But the Australian people love Work for the Dole. The participants love Work for the Dole. They enjoy contributing to the community. They enjoy the opportunity to learn new skills. Best of all, they are 76 per cent more likely to get a job and get out of the poverty trap by contributing to that scheme.

The motion also refers to the Youth Allowance. Youth unemployment under Labor peaked at 34½ per cent. That is hardly showing concern for youth. That unemployment rate has been halved under this government. Interest rates have also been mentioned. One of the major elements in the wellbeing of families is a stable economic environment. Under previous Labor governments we had the recession we had to have, which harmed a lot of families. We also had an interest rate of 17.1 per cent. What does that mean? On a mortgage of $100,000, the saving incurred by an average family—the saving out of their pocket—is $200 a week. Under Labor it was an interest amount of $327 a week; under the coalition it is $106.

Why were interest rates so high? Because members opposite could not balance the books. They were busy out there in the market; they were selling the farm, selling off our assets and, at the same time, competing in the money markets for loan funds because they could not run a balanced budget. The only response that members opposite have to any situation is increased government spending and increased welfare. This government empowers families and builds a stronger Australian community; it is committed to a balanced budget and good economic management. Members opposite are purely interested in dragging people down and committing them to welfare outcomes. (Time expired)