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Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Page: 74


Mr ANDREWS (Menzies) (18:49): I rise to speak on the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Income Support Bonus) Bill 2012. There is a central question which the coalition has in relation to this bill, namely: where is the money coming from? This bill introduces a new twice-yearly payment for persons in receipt of certain income support welfare. This measure is part of the so-called Spreading the Benefits of the Boom package from the 2012-13 budget. In his press release on 8 May last year, the Treasurer noted:

The Benefits of the Boom package will be funded by re-directing Minerals Resource Rent Tax revenue intended for the company tax cut.

So how is this going to be funded? By the mining tax—and hasn't that tax been successful! It is another failed Labor policy.

The bill would amend the Social Security Act 1991, the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999, the Farm Household Support Act 1992 and the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to create a new income support payment, a payment that the government will have to borrow money in order to pay. This profligate government is going to borrow even more money to provide a new payment, a payment that it pretends is being funded from a tax that has raised no meaningful revenue—and if the government has a different view about that then perhaps in the course of this debate it could inform us, but on the best information available to us there has been no meaningful revenue raised by the so-called mining tax.

This government has presided over a massive rise in the cost-of-living pressures that these people face. The government is now cynically trying to confuse and deceive these Australians by pretending to have the money to deliver a new payment of $1 billion or more over the forward estimates. In other words, that is $1 billion to be borrowed in order to make these payments. I wonder how ordinary working Australians feel about that.

Courtesy of a direct impact of the carbon tax, over 2012 the cost of electricity rose by 17.7 per cent, and the cost of gas and other household fuels has risen 17.3 per cent. If the government were serious about helping Australians facing cost-of-living pressures, they could repeal the carbon tax. They cynically want to paint a picture that they will actually deliver new financial support. But, once again, this shows that the Labor government cannot be trusted.

And where is the evidence that they cannot be trusted? One only needs look at the carbon tax deception, or the budget surplus deception, or the deception that there would be a community consensus on carbon trading, or that company tax would be cut or the massive cuts to defence. One might say that there is a track record of deception from a government that misleads and deceives and from a Prime Minister who knifed her boss and is now demanding that her colleagues stop leaking to the press.

The income support bonus comes with a $1 billion price tag. Let me be frank, Labor cannot afford it, and they know they cannot afford it. Let's be clear: this new payment would supposedly be funded by a mining tax that has failed to raise the money that Labor promised. The fact is that, therefore, according to the Treasurer's own design, this payment is unfunded. As I said, this is going to be more raising of revenue by way of borrowings by the government in order to make this payment over the next four years. If the government had not wasted so much money on pink batts and on school halls and the like, then it might be able to fund this measure without throwing even more money on the nation's credit card. The Prime Minister began this parliamentary term by breaking her promise that there will be no carbon tax under the government she leads, and she finished 2012 by breaking her promise to deliver a surplus in 2012-13. She now expects the Australian people to trust her when she promises that she can afford this new payment.

Australian families are fed up with the deception and the deceit and the broken promises that are consistently served up by the Labor government. Division and dysfunction rule the day in this government—a government led by a Prime Minister incapable of keeping her promises, a Treasurer incapable of delivering a surplus and ministers incapable of understanding that a quick and unfunded cash splash will burden future generations with more debt. The coalition have been on record for a long time with our commitment to scrap the mining tax because it is a bad tax for Australia, and consistent with that promise we will oppose this bill.