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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 7155


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (15:57): That representation by the member for Oxley just summarises where the government's head is at and how trivial and juvenile they are in the way they behave in this place and also outside of it. I think Australians will rightly be pretty upset about the fact that this government are more concerned about themselves and about their own jobs than they are about the jobs of everyday Australians. I think the Australian people will be rightly concerned that this mob is more focused on its own survival rather than the destiny of the Australian economy. Of course, what is coming back to haunt the Labor Party are their own words and nothing encapsulated that more than the Treasurer who stood in this place in May last year and in his budget speech made an emphatic proclamation. He said:

The four years of surpluses I announce tonight are a powerful endorsement of the strength of our economy, resilience of our people and success of our policies.

In an uncertain and fast changing world, we walk tall—as a nation confidently living within its means.

That is what the Treasurer said in May last year. I would suggest that, if delivering a surplus is an endorsement of Labor's policies, then nothing could be a clearer sign of failure than Labor's delivery of a $19 billion deficit. They set the benchmarks. We did not set the benchmarks. They set the benchmark of economic success as their ability to deliver a surplus and live within their means. Worse still, according to the budget papers, there will be no surplus until 2017—four years and two elections into the future.

The Treasurer committed to a surplus this year on more than 350 occasions. So I can understand why Australians are confused about the message coming from the Treasurer and this government. After all, the Treasurer told us that delivering surpluses was about jobs and growth. They have always got a mantra. They always have a focus group tested mantra: jobs and growth, jobs and growth. Their view is that if you repeat it enough the Australian people will simply believe it. But the Australian people do not. The Australian people are much smarter than the Labor Party will ever give them credit for.

Nothing exemplifies that more than the observation from Nouriel Roubini this week. Nouriel Roubini is arguably the finest economic analyst in the world and has been given credit on numerous occasions for picking the GFC when others did not. Nouriel Roubini put out a report on Australia this week, and he said: 'Households clearly remain under pressure. Consumer sentiment has also taken a hit due to the government's big miss on the budget this year, which reversed surprisingly strong confidence in early 2013.' That is the world's foremost economist saying emphatically that the government's big miss on the budget this year has reversed surprisingly strong confidence that was in Australian community.

The circus that is the modern Labor Party is never going to be able to lead whilst it does not know where it wants to go. The circus that is the modern Labor Party will never be trusted by the Australian people so long as they make the big, heroic promises that, at the end of the day, they just never deliver.

In the past week, we have received more warnings from peak Australian business people about the lack of confidence of business and consumers. Why not? We have had yet again more leadership speculation. We are in the middle of another groundhog-day-like leadership show from the Labor Party. What are the Australian people going to do? Do you think they are going to cheer and go out there and spend money in shops, invest in businesses and take a risk employing more people? No, they are not. They are going to sit on their hands, hoping that one day stability and predictability will come back to Canberra.

Over the past 24 hours, we have had the Business Council of Australia president, Tony Shepherd, say, 'We are now seeing that the economy is not as great as it looked.' Is it the end of the world? No, it is not, but we will have significant structural adjustment issues in the coming years. They are ringing the bell. They are warning that if we do not move now to address some of the structural challenges, then we are going to have pain in future years. What does the Labor Party care? Most of them have given up. They do not care about future pain. They do not care about future challenges. They just care about their jobs; whether they have got a chance of holding their seats. They do not care about the country. Toll Holdings chairman, Ray Horsburgh, warned this week, 'There is a general reluctance to spend money. The days of easy money are gone and financing for projects and capital expenditure is getting tougher.' The head of Australian equity strategy research branch at Macquarie Bank, Tanya Branwhite, said: 'Politically, it is just a shambles. Corporate Australia has just come to a stop. There is zero confidence about where we're headed, and household Australia is much the same.'

I would have thought that the Treasurer would be concerned about those sorts of observations. Macquarie Bank, Nouriel Roubini, Toll Holdings, the president of the Business Council of Australia, Goldman Sachs and a number of others are warning—they are ringing the bells and flashing the lights—that there are challenges now and ahead.

What does this government do? It talks about its own leadership problems. It speculates. It talks about whether the member for Griffith is coming back or not. I do not care, and the Australian people do not care. The Australian people care about their jobs, not the job of Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd. The Australian people care about their destiny, not the destiny of Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd.

The Australian people have had a gutful of the mess that is the modern Labor Party. They have had a gutful of the hubris of an incompetent government that is dividing the nation rather than uniting it; a government that cannot get the basics right, whether it comes to the nation's spiralling government debt, the carbon tax, the mining tax or asylum seeker management. In every single policy area that you can imagine, the Labor Party just gets it wrong. No wonder they cannot get their own leadership right. What a surprise. If they cannot get policy right, how are they going to get leadership right? Three years ago almost to the day, Prime Minister Gillard promised that she 'will lead a strong and responsible government that will take control of our future'. Labor's problems with debt show emphatically that the government does not have control of the future.

Labor did not trust themselves when they came to government so they introduced a debt cap of $75 billion, and they broke that. They said it was the GFC and they had to break that debt cap of $75 billion; they increased it to $200 billion. They said, 'Look, this is a financial crisis; we have had all this money ripped out and we have got to increase the debt cap to deal with it.' And they said, 'This will be the worst of it, don't worry'; $200 billion. But then, they kept spending. They kept spending money they did not have. They kept spending money on pink batts and school halls. Did you know that the Labor Party is still building 32 school halls today as part of the stimulus package of December 2008 and, of course, they were handing out $900 cheques to dead people. How does a dead person stimulate the economy? That is going to be a great trivia question some time in the future. What about all those pink batts? They spent billions of dollars putting pink batts into people's homes and then spent billions of dollars ripping them out. They might as well have painted rocks white for all that was worth. But the cost was deaths; deaths of young Australians putting those damn pink batts into people's homes—no apology from the Labor Party for that.

But when it comes to debt, they were not satisfied with $200 billion and they said: 'Look, I'm sorry, we're going to have to increase it again. We have to go to $250 billion.' And in the next budget they said: 'Look, where has that money gone. I'm sorry, we are going to have to go further. We are going to have to go to $300 billion, but don't worry, we are never going to get above the $250 billion—ever. No, no, never! We will never go above $250 billion, but just in case.' And we said, 'Hang on, don't trust Labor.' They are like someone who cannot control their spending and keeps going back to the bank manager and saying, 'Look, can we increase my credit card limit from $5,000 to $40,000?' and then coming back for $50,000, and then the next week $70,000. The government are just the same—they do not live within their means.

And what happens? Now it has been revealed in Senate estimates that in fact the debt cap of $300 billion just is not enough. At the end of this year, according to the last budget, they will get to $290 billion of government debt. But some time early next year, they will get over $300 billion and someone into the future will have to address that. As the Treasury said to Neil Mitchell at budget time, with his world-renowned courage—a courage which would have been most often found on that yellow brick road—'Someone else will have to worry about that' in reference to increasing the debt limit.

There has been one consistent theme about the incompetence of the Rudd and Gillard governments; it is that Wayne Swan has been the Treasurer the whole way through. How about that? What a surprise. He has been the one consistent theme. He has been the one person who keeps making these big heroic promises. Of course, he joined the current Prime Minister in committing Labor to not having a carbon tax. He said on 7.30that it was absurd. He even suggested that it was typical of the Liberal Party to suggest that the Labor Party would introduce a carbon tax—and then they did. This man, who is brimful of courage, did not even have the courage to turn up at the press conference in the Prime Minister's courtyard and say we are introducing a new tax. He was cowering under his desk in the Treasurer's office. Normally, a Treasurer is there when you are introducing a new tax—but not when it comes to the carbon tax. But Monday next week he is the man who is going to deliver an increase in the carbon tax. It is going up five per cent next week to $24.15 per tonne. Gee, that has got to be good for Australia—$24.15 per tonne for carbon tax next week—given that New Zealand has a carbon tax of 75c per tonne. Given that the Europeans have a carbon tax of around $6 a tonne, you would think we would not want to be at a competitive disadvantage to those people. But no, the Labor Party somehow believes it is great for Australia to have a tax at a level that no-one else has and to implement it on energy, which flows right through to every aspect of the economy.

How about that mining tax? What a cracker that was! Only Wayne Swann could introduce a tax that does not raise any money and bring down two prime ministers. Only he could do that. He is accomplished at this: overpromising and under-delivering. It was a tax that was meant to raise $30 billion but ended up raising $3.3 billion. That is a cracker—to go through all that political pain of the mining tax and then have it raise no money. But the problem is that Labor spent what they thought they were going to get and they continue to borrow to make up that gap. They are borrowing from you, the Australian people; they are borrowing from our children. Somehow they think that is great governance. It is not.

Asylum seekers have now cost $10 billion. Kevin Rudd's failure on asylum seeker boats has cost $10 billion. More tragically, 45,000 people have come on boats to Australia and it is averaging around three boats a day now. They are not reported everywhere, but that is the most obvious signature policy failure of this government. But it is always hard to tell.

On regulation, they said they would deregulate. To their great credit they have abolished 1,000 regulations since they have been in the government. The problem is they have introduced 21,000 new regulations. No wonder red tape and green tape are killing the Australian economy. The list goes on.

The bottom line is this: the Labor Party does not know how to govern the country. The Labor Party does not know how to govern its own party. The Labor Party cares more about their own jobs than they care about the jobs of the Australian people. They care only about their own finances; they do not care about the finances of the families and small businesses of Australia. The sooner we have this election the better. The Australian people are crying out for a change of government.