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Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Page: 6167


Mr HAASE (Durack) (18:35): I rise this evening to speak on appropriation bills Nos 1, 2, 5 and 6 of 2012-13, which are being debated concurrently. I rise to speak on these bills, not with pleasure but, rather, with a great deal of disappointment—disappointment for the manner in which this government is failing this great nation we call home; disappointment for the lack of integrity shown by this Labor-led, Green-endorsed government. This big-spending, high-taxing government belittles the intelligence of the Australian taxpayer.

Just 12 months ago I stood before the House, weary of fixing successive Labor government financial blunders. I was sick of listening to their rhetoric. I was tired of witnessing the Liberal Party leaving Australia in a position where a financial future was assured for our children only to have that secure financial position trashed every time Labor claimed power. Nothing in the past 12 months has altered my opinions.

In the past 12 months this parliament has seen the once highly regarded position of Prime Minister tarnished. We have seen the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives brought into disrepute. We have witnessed the demise of our international reputation as a low-sovereign-risk destination. We have seen our once strong border protection policies further dismantled, giving way to thousands of economic opportunists arriving on our shores. A number of pastoralists have lost their livelihoods and others are still struggling to recover from the financial setback dealt to them with the abrupt halt to live exports. Good governance is being destroyed by the rise of vocal minorities. The Greens' 'same-sex marriage' debate is a perfect example of topics being thrown up to distract the government from their focus on the more serious subjects of national importance this government ought be encouraging.

This past year has, however, has seen great consistency in the government's approach and attitude towards financial matters. They are still wasting money and still introducing new taxes. In fact, this budget includes six new tax hikes, including increases to heavy vehicle road user charges and reduced tax offsets for families with high medical bills, bringing the total number of new or increased taxes the Rudd-Gillard government has delivered since 2007 to 26.

This government is teetering on the precipice of extinction and it seems it has vowed, behind closed doors, to take the country with it. Rather than leaving with an intact reputation when the Australian voting public make their stand against it at the next election, this deceitful government will take with it the legacy of a dishonest and unethical government—a government that has sold out Australians, a government that breaks promises, wastes our money, lies and dabbles in dirty deals behind closed doors.

Labor's cumulative record deficits of $174 billion and continued unsustainable borrowing of $100 million a day is destroying the very heart of Australia. Western Australia, and Durack in particular, is the powerhouse of the nation. We are far more financially independent than other states and the eastern states treasury see us as a volcano of gold. Western Australia is doing very well at the moment and, rather than rewarding our state, the government is hell bent on penalising us. The minerals resource rent tax, due to commence on 1 July 2012, is a federal tax on the state of Western Australia. State royalties are the traditional vehicle for the compensation of the people of Western Australia, the owners of Western Australia's resource deposits, and the federal government has no place in envying Western Australia and getting its grubby hands on those royalties via the MRRT.

The 2012-13 federal budget has not an ounce of credibility. This budget is all about cooked books, the minerals resources rent tax, its evil twin the carbon tax, and more debt. Like an amateur magician, the government has used sleight of hand and resorted to accounting trickery and money shuffling to manufacture the appearance of a budget surplus of $1.5 billion in 2012-13. This budget is all about addressing a political problem—buying the votes and silence of the Australian public; it has nothing to do with sound economic management. There is not a shred of evidence to imply good budgeting policies. The government has lost sight of its desire to improve the lives of Australians, and along the way it has lost the support of its core support base.

Some 70 years ago, Sir Robert Menzies delivered his 'forgotten people' broadcast. Sir Robert's commitment to the forgotten people became the foundation of the Liberal Party and the strength of modern Australia. The forgotten people, according to Sir Robert, were the growing middle class, the people who would be the 'backbone of this country'. Sir Robert, all those years ago, made the following profound statement:

In a country like Australia the class war must always be a false war.

We, as Liberals, continue Sir Robert's vision, we do not support politics of envy or class war, or policies that seek to penalise Australia's forgotten families. We on this side of the House have never lost sight of the aspirations of our core support base. We believe Australians who work hard should be encouraged and not penalised. We also believe in keeping our word, unlike the current government, which always talks the talk but never walks the walk. The government was given—by default, I might add—the right to govern. It must now accept the responsibility that goes with that right.

Responsibility must be taken for the 2011-12 budget deficit—a deficit which has now blown out not once, not twice, but three times. Yes, that is right: the 2011-12 budget has blown out three times from $12 billion to $23 billion projected, to $37 billion and now to $44 billion dollars, and the financial year is not yet over. Now, 12 months on, we are expected to believe that a surplus of a puny $1.5 billion will be delivered—estimated by the same government that got it wrong by $32 billion in the last year.

The government is witnessing the fastest growth in revenue since the mid 1980s, yet it has managed to achieve record levels of government debt and is spending $100 billion more per year compared to when it came to office. This represents an almost 40 per cent increase over a time when inflation has risen by 13.2 per cent.

A closer look at Appropriation Bill (No.2) 2012-2013 shows that this bill contains a proposal to amend the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911 to increase the limit on the face value of stock and securities—that is, debt that can be issued under the Treasurer's standing borrowing authority or debt ceiling. The amendment proposes to increase the existing debt ceiling from $250 billion to $300 billion. If this government truly believed their own rhetoric, truly believed in what their well-oiled statements released to the media say, if they truly believed what they themselves spruik about a budget surplus in 2012-13, why would they bury the proposal to increase the Australian credit card limit in Appropriation Bill (No.2)? Is it to avoid proper scrutiny and a specific vote on the debt limit or is it because they are embarrassed that government debt is at an unprecedented level? Why, during the fanfare, pomp and ceremony of the announcement of the proposed, yet, I am quite sure, fantasy budget surplus did the Treasurer not even mention the plan to raise the debt limit? Such is the Treasurer's flippant regard for the Australian taxpayers' money, when asked why he needed to lift the debt limit if he was returning the budget to surplus, Mr Swan responded:

Well, very simply, this is no big deal.

I stand before this House representing the people of Durack, and we say it is a big deal. There is currently about $227.4 billion worth of Commonwealth bonds on issuance, about $221 billion of which is factored towards the current $250 billion debt ceiling. The government's plan to increase the ceiling to $300 billion at first glance does not gel with its claim of returning the budget to surplus in 2012-13 and of reducing expenditure and debt.

The carbon tax due to commence on 1 July 2012—the very same tax the current Prime Minister said five days before the last election would not be introduced under a government she led—is generating chaos in industry and panic in the minds of mums and dads all over Australia. The families in the City of Greater Geraldton and within the Shire of Broome are worried they will suffer yet another hit from this government after the Clean Energy Regulator—or the carbon cop officials—recently named these communities as being on a list of entities that may be liable to pay the carbon tax. Australians were always going to suffer the consequences of the carbon tax with rising electricity and gas prices. Now, in addition to those costs pushing up the price of everything, ratepayers in parts of Durack may be hit again because their council owns or uses a dump or landfill facility.

Given the government itself has forecast that even under its carbon tax Australia's greenhouse gas emissions will increase from 578 million tonnes in 2012 to 621 million tonnes in 2020, one wonders at the logic behind this carbon tax. The 2012-13 budget papers confirm that, despite falling international prices, Labor's toxic tax will go up to $29 a tonne in just three years and an additional $36 million will be spent on taxpayer-funded carbon tax advertising over the next two years—advertisements that do not mention the carbon tax but instead tout cash handouts in a feeble attempt to disassociate the tax from the true financial pain. These handouts are a bribe and should be seen for what they are—a floundering government's endeavour to buy the Australian public's silence and thereafter their vote.

This government has replaced the education tax refund with a schoolkids bonus, increasing total welfare payments, including the schoolkids bonus and the extra family welfare, by $4.8 billion. This welfare bonus has nothing to do with the cost of sending children to school but everything to do with softening the blow for the parents of school-aged children when the carbon tax arrives. There are no requirements for this rebadged education tax rebate to be spent on kids' education. This bonus is another grab for votes.

The already overstretched and under resourced Customs and Border Protection Service has had a budget cut of $25.9 million and 190 staff from Customs have lost their jobs, bringing a total cut since Labor came to power of $264.5 million and 750 jobs. Our already porous borders will be further susceptible to the smuggling of people, guns, drugs and other contraband, let alone the unknown risks and cost to this nation from the absence of quarantine services. Part of our border protection systems includes defence forces, yet the defence budget has also suffered with cuts to the tune of $5.5 billion.

Net government debt will climb to a record $144.9 billion in 2013-14. That is an increase of almost $40 billion since last year's budget and by 2015-16 the government will be spending over $8 billion a year, or around $22 million a day, on interest payments alone. I am sure all Australians would prefer their money was spent on health, education, disability insurance and roads rather than on an interest bill of $8 billion.

This government has handed down a big-taxing, big-spending budget. This budget does nothing but confirm the Labor Party has no plan or desire to build a stronger economy, repay debt or create secure jobs. There is no rigor shown in relation to welfare and responsibility. This government cannot continue to reward people for merely existing. This is a budget with no regard for Australia's financial future; rather, it is a budget delivered by a government trying to claw back votes before the next federal election.