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Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Page: 2334

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (20:23): Last Christmas I was sitting at home by the television waiting to watch the Boxing Day test at the MCG in Melbourne. Australia was to play England and the crowd was pouring in. The camera was in the centre of the ground and it panned around the grandstands of the MCG. You could see in the vast grandstands that go up to the sky a wave of humanity. That day we had a world record crowd—91,000 people filled the MCG that day. While we think that is an enormous amount of people, if we filled the MCG twice it still would not be the number of people who joined the unemployment queues in the last six years of Labor government.

We saw over the last six years the unemployment queues of this country increase by 200,000 people. So we could take the MCG ground with all those seats in the massive stands and fill it once and fill it again and still have to find space for the other 20,000 people who joined the ranks of the full-time unemployed over the last six years. That was despite the previous Labor government running up deficit after deficit. When they left they had combined deficits of over $300 billion, yet we still had this massive blow-out in unemployment. This was also during a mining boom. A boom like that had not been seen in this nation's history since the gold rush and still we had this massive increase in unemployment.

Contrast that to the previous time the coalition was in government. During the Howard and Costello years we saw the number of full-time unemployed decrease by 300,000. The policies of the previous coalition government took 300,000 full-time unemployed people from the job queues and got them into full-time work. Yet, in six years of Labor we saw the exact opposite, with the queues growing by 200,000 people.

The previous coalition government were amazing. The previous coalition government allowed the economy to create all those additional jobs while at the same time paid back the $96 billion of debt they inherited, plus the $54 billion of interest payments along the way, and put another $45 billion in the bank. That was all money that came out of the economy, yet they were still able to shorten the unemployment queues by 300,000 people. In contrast, in six years of Labor we saw those queues increase by 200,000 people.

One only has to look at the states. Last weekend we had state elections in South Australia and Tasmania. They were the only two states where Labor held government. In South Australia they held government for 12 years and in Tasmania they held it for 16 years. Just perhaps by coincidence the two states where Labor still held government are the states that have the highest rates of unemployment in the country.

I believe many good people sit on the opposition benches and they would like to see the unemployment queues go down, but the problem is that their policies simply do not work. They simply do not understand job creation. It is not governments that create jobs. This is perhaps the most fundamental difference between the two sides of politics in this country. The opposition believe that it is governments that create jobs. I have heard that from speaker after speaker in this debate on the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Increased Employment Participation) Bill 2014. We in the government understand that the job creators of this country are private small- and medium-sized businesses. It is our entrepreneurs who create the jobs in this country. Those are the people we need to encourage. We need to encourage those small business people. We need to encourage our entrepreneurs. That is the only way we are going to get our unemployment rates down.

Perhaps we saw such an increase under the previous Labor government, despite all their concerns about job creation, because they did not understand that every time they introduced more regulation, every time they introduced more red tape for small business, every time they slugged them with additional taxes, such as the carbon tax, and every time they took moves to make our banking sector further concentrated all they did was create disincentives for our entrepreneurs and our small business people to create jobs. Was it any wonder that we saw our small business sector during the previous six years decline by 400,000 people? Unless we can free the hands of our entrepreneurs and our small businesses we are going to be stuck with these high levels of unemployment.

The other mistake we have seen the previous government make is trying to protect jobs with subsidies. What we have to appreciate is that one company's subsidy is another company's tax increase. When the government steps in to tax a company to get the money to provide subsidies for another company, all they are doing is weakening the ability of those efficient and prosperous companies to create jobs. We should have learned by now, after the mistakes of the past, that central planning simply does not work. Central planning simply does not work because it does not allow for innovation, creation, experimentation, and for failure and therefore further experimentation. That is what creates jobs.

To start with, we have to look at our education system. In this nation, we need to build an entrepreneurial culture because that is the way we are going to create jobs. It all starts with our education system. Our education system should teach our kids about innovation and enterprise, but instead we have the concept of sustainability embedded across every subject of our education system. Of course, it all depends on how you define sustainability. This is how it is defined in our education system. I quote directly from the national curriculum, 'Sustainability education is futures-oriented,'—whatever that means—'focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action.' This sounds very nice, this political correctness. But this teaches low growth, social conformity and constraint. We need to teach our kids about entrepreneurship. We need to be teaching them that they can go out and they can create jobs, that they can create businesses and that they can succeed. Instead, what is taught in our schools is this negative green ideology that our resources are running out. What we need to do is inspire our kids. We need to be reminding them that the greatest resource is their own human ingenuity. That is a resource that is unlimited.

Getting onto the specifics of this bill, which I commend to the House, there are two measures that help achieve those objectives to get those unemployment numbers down and to create incentives. The first is a job commitment bonus for young Australians. This will be a new payment. It will be available to any Australian aged between 18 and 30 who has been unemployed for 12 months or more and who has been in receipt of Newstart allowance or youth allowance. If they get a job and hold that job for 12 months, they will get a $2,500 cash bonus. If they go on to hold that job for a further 12 months—that is, for two years—they get another $4,000. This is a great incentive. That is what we need to do; we need to incentivise our young people. If they can get a job, this cash bonus is available to them.

The second part of this job commitment bonus is the additional relocation assistance bonus. This helps people who might have to relocate from one part of the country to another, from a metropolitan area to a regional area or vice versa, or from one city to another city. It provides them with a relocation bonus. If a jobseeker has been on Newstart allowance, youth allowance or a parenting payment for at least 12 months and they need to relocate to take up a job, they can get a payment of up to $6,000. In addition, families with dependent children will be provided an extra $3,000 in recognition of the additional costs that can accrue for moving families.

This is just the start of the coalition's plans to get that unemployment down, to get more Australians into work. But we must remember, at the end of the day, it is not government that creates jobs. All government does is provide the landscape, the incentives and the systems. These enable private enterprise to get on, to start up new companies and new businesses, to innovate, to invest and to take risks. That is what creates jobs. We must never, ever forget that in this place. For the government to create jobs, it is taxing those companies and taking the opportunity, destroying the opportunity and weakening the opportunity for those businesses to create jobs.

We saw a great example of that recently with SPC. We heard horror stories from the opposition that, unless the government gave SPC subsidies, all these jobs would be lost. They said we should throw this company, a multinational company owned by Coca-Cola, another $25 million of taxpayers' money to save all these jobs. We know members of the opposition who were espousing those thoughts were left with egg all over their faces. What actually happened was that the public saw an Australian company making Australian produce, a good product, and they rushed to our major supermarkets and purchased those products. If we had listened to what the opposition encouraged us to do and borrowed another $25 million to give to that company, there would not have been an incentive for the Australian consumer to go out there and support that company. This is because they would knew they would have been doing it through their taxpayers' dollars.

We also must realise the delusion that we have heard about the creation of green jobs. Our natural competitive advantage as a nation has been our low-cost electricity prices. Because we have had those low-cost electricity prices, we have been able to afford to pay workers high wages. But policies such as the carbon tax and the renewable energy scheme—where we subsidise the building of inefficient windmills and inefficient forms of electricity generation, which feed through to higher prices for business—will destroy jobs. Such policies act as a reverse tariff to make industries in Australia less competitive—that is, they shift jobs offshore. Of course this is what we have seen. When we were in opposition, we warned that, if you bring in policies which raise electricity prices, jobs will be lost and jobs will go offshore. We warned about this time after time and that is exactly what we have seen happen. During this debate, it has been good to hear comments from many in the opposition about the importance of job creation. But if they were really and truly concerned about job creation in this nation, they could do one very simple thing—they could contact their friends over in the Senate and ask them to pass the bill to repeal the carbon tax.