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Thursday, 30 May 2013
Page: 4654


Mr VAN MANEN (Forde) (10:50): In speaking on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2013-2014, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2013-2014 and Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2013-2014, I would like to remind us what the Leader of the Opposition said in his address in reply to the budget on 16 May:

We are a great country and a great people let down by a bad government.

I think that very succinctly sums up the situation. Almost every day I am reminded how disappointed people living in Forde are with the present government. Many small businesses in my electorate have been struggling under this government's policies. They tell me there is absolutely no confidence in the business community. There are seniors on pensions in Forde who struggle to have three square meals a day, who cannot afford to leave the lights on at night and who struggle daily with the high cost of living. I have retirees who have planned their whole lives to support their own retirement, only now to be burdened by this government's new or increased taxes and punitive changes to legislation and superannuation. We have families dealing with cost-of-living pressures who have little or no savings left. Mum and dad both have to work to keep up with these costs and we are seeing an increase in the number of so-called middle-income families turning to local welfare groups for support.

Even young adults are starting to feel disappointed with this government because they are figuring out that Labor's plan for their futures will include an inheritance of debt and deficit. They are comparing their lives to those of their parents and are feeling envious, as many young people now are resigned to the fact that they may never be able to afford their own home. On a community level, we have a number of welfare organisations, clubs, support groups and charities that are also doing it tough because the majority of these organisations rely on volunteers. They have been wrapped up in the burden of red tape and regulation coming from this government.

Mr Mitchell interjecting

Mr VAN MANEN: I always appreciate contributions from my learned colleague the member for McEwen! So many of us feel uncertain about where we are headed under this government. We all feeling disappointed because this government under Kevin Rudd initially promised so much but delivered so little that it cost him his job. The new Prime Minister said that they had lost their way. I would respectfully suggest that they are yet to find it. Much of this unnecessary pressure on households and businesses is coming from a government which cannot be trusted and a government which has a huge spending and forecasting problem.

It is worth considering that the revenue in 2013-14 is some $80 billion higher than the last year of the coalition government, but spending is some $120 billion higher. The last budget will potentially deliver total gross debt which will breach the $300 billion debt ceiling in forward estimates; Labor's fifth record deficit in five years, with at least two more deficits to come; with no credible plan back to surplus; more broken promises, such as scrapped tax cuts and family payments; more than $25 billion in higher taxes over the next four years; and, an extra $100 million spending on government advertising.

This is a budget that does nothing to help individuals, families and business owners with the rising cost-of-living pressures, economic uncertainty and poor services. To illustrate this, I would like to quote the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Anderson, when he stated:

The federal budget does little to take cost pressure off the private sector, especially small business …

This is right around the country. In his statement he said that there were around two million small businesses employing some seven million people and yet the government continues to turn its back on this sector.

On his analysis of the budget, Mr Anderson found that there was:

No company tax relief;

Higher personal income tax (Medicare levy);

No capital gains tax relief;

No cost offset to fund the 1st July hike in the superannuation levy;

No restoration of incentives for hiring new apprentices;

No reduction in tax compliance and red-tape.

He also said:

Business is once again asked to bear the brunt of fiscal ill-discipline. A $200 million increased tax burden next year will add to business costs and erode Australia's productive capacity. These are measures that collectively make the country less competitive.

To quote Mr Anderson once again:

Budget deficits indicate that fiscal policy needs overhaul. This should begin with a "root-and-branch review" of government spending, a detailed plan to restore the budget to balance and reform to regulatory, tax and workplace policy so that the burden of adjustment does not fall so strongly on monetary policy.

The Institute of Public Accountants shares the same sentiments, saying:

Small businesses across Australia can expect further pain this year thanks to tonight's Federal Budget …

The IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway, states:

Instead of a reduction in the regulatory burden and provision of long sought after tax breaks to support the vital small business sector, we find ourselves with yet another Budget that will do nothing to promote the small business sector.

But there is hope. The coalition has a plan for small business that will ease this burden and cut red tape. We have a plan, and our plan is aimed to deliver a strong and prosperous economy, and a safe and secure future for Australia.

The old adage is that 'if you fail to plan, you plan to fail', and as we see here the Prime Minister and the Treasurer failed to set out a credible economic plan for the next 12 months, let alone for the longer term. So how can we feel secure about what comes after that? What about the following year, or the next decade? What happens then? We do not even know how the Treasurer plans to pay for the big-ticket announcements. It seems fitting here to quote Henry Ford:

You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do

Or as my late friend Brian Klemmer once said:

There is no fairer way to gauge something than by results; often harsh, always fair.

After six years of Labor we now have organisations like the Salvation Army coming forward with National Economic and Social Impact Survey statistics showing that the majority of respondents are unable to pay their bills on time and that most have little or no savings in case of an emergency.

We see this with local organisations in Forde, such as Lighthouse Care, Twin Rivers and CentroCARE, which tell me similar stories. They tell me that they are increasingly seeing middle-income families coming through their doors for assistance and support. The Australian Medical Association president, Dr Steve Hambleton, also came out slamming the government. He made the comment that the government were getting sick people to help fix the budget black hole after a decision to delay indexation of the medical benefits scheme from 1 November to 1 July 2014.

As I have said many times in this place—and I will say it again—this is a government that put on an act as if they are looking after the best interests of struggling Australians, but they are actually making life harder and more difficult for the most vulnerable people in our society, the people who have the least capacity to adjust their lifestyles because of the adverse changes this government has brought in over the past five or six years. People are literally parked on struggle street, staring down a dark, foggy road and wondering what detours and obstacles lie ahead.

I want the people of Forde to know that the coalition have a plan to ease this discontent. We will take the budget pressure off Australian households and we will seek to strengthen our economy. This will clear the fog from our paths and give Australians more options and more paths and more opportunities for prosperity. In order to do this though, we have to change the perception that governments have an endless supply of money to spend on whatever they like. After all it is not the government's money, it is taxpayers' money and their way of life will be compromised if that money is wasted. The nation's piggy bank has well and truly been raided by this government, and now the poor old piggy bank has this rather empty feeling inside, and it will have for a few years to come. There are no surpluses on the way for this government.

Even if they promised there would be one, how could we believe it anyway? After all we were promised there would be no carbon tax, but there is. Originally we were all told that the deficit would be a temporary thorn in the side, but it is still here causing more and more pain every day. I could stand here and list a whole raft of this government's broken promises. We have all heard them; we all know what they are. Australians all over this country have lost faith in this government. But there is an alternative. On 14 September Australians will have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to restore hope, reward and opportunity to this great country by hopefully electing a coalition government.

An incoming coalition government will abolish the carbon tax and we will retain income tax cuts from the fortnightly pension benefit increases that were associated with the introduction of the carbon tax. This way households will be able to plan for their futures with confidence. Our commitments are fully funded and will be offset by the equivalent reductions in government spending because we will not be carrying on the reckless and wasteful spending habits of this Labor government. We will seek to keep interest rates low through paying bank debt, which, in interest alone, is costing us some $35 million per day. We will seek to create more accessible and more affordable and flexible child care for families. As I mentioned earlier, businesses will also benefit from our plan for the reduction in red tape and regulation. We believe that governments, like families and businesses, have to live within their means. In just under four months, Australians will finally be given the opportunity to make a choice. They will have the choice to elect a coalition government to get this great nation back on track.