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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 7159


Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (16:12): It is always a pleasure to contribute to a matter of public importance such as this one. It is interesting that we end there with the member for North Sydney talking about jobs. Notice that he did not talk about that nearly one million jobs that have been created in the economy since this government has been in office. Almost a million jobs created, with an economy that is now 14 per cent larger than it was before the global financial crisis.

We must put that in some global context, given that we operate in a global economy and any comparison must be one that looks at what is happening out there across the globe. Across the globe, throughout that period, tens of millions of jobs have been lost in economies but here in the Australian economy almost a million jobs have been created. That is a result of the economic policies that have been put in place by this government over that period.

There is always lots of discussion, with the benefit of hindsight, from those opposite and I note that the member for North Sydney quoted Nouriel Roubini. He said that Roubini is a very esteemed economist; certainly he is a well-regarded economist. I must make the point that he has been known by some under the name of 'Dr Doom', which I would have thought would be the very first sort of economist that would be cited by those opposite because they are talkers of doom at every opportunity. Throughout the last several years, when the Australian economy has outperformed every other major advanced economy, they have given no credit to the Australian economy; they have given no credit to the job creation policies of this government; but they now come into this place and point to an economist who has been noted for having predicted the global financial crisis. That is his principal claim to fame. They come in and quote that economist even though, for the last five years, they have been denying the existence of the global financial crisis. When the GFC hit—

Mr Ruddock: And they are still spending stimulus money!

Mr BRADBURY: Thank you very much for the interjection from the member for Berowra, who says: 'And they are still spending stimulus money!' He should have a look at the speech that his colleague, the member for North Sydney, gave just the other night, when he said 'The economy is tanking so badly that it will need another stimulus package.' If Joe Hockey, the member for North Sydney, believes that things are so dire that the economy needs a stimulus package, why was it that just a short time ago he was over on the other side of the world talking the politics of austerity? The politics of austerity means ripping funding away; it means less government expenditure and jacking up taxes. It is the height of hypocrisy when the member for North Sydney comes in here and says the worst thing you could do is introduce a big tax that will slow growth and hurt the economy.

Then he went on to say that the Treasurer was not there at the press conference when the carbon price was announced. I do not recall the member for North Sydney, as the shadow economics spokesman, having his name on the press release that announced the opposition's monster $20 billion paid parental leave tax. That is probably because he does not support the policy. The Leader of the Opposition says it is a signature policy—a policy that will give millionaires up to $75,000 in payments while they go off and have a child. Yet the Leader of the Opposition is the same bloke who, when he was in government, said he would only support a paid parental leave policy over his dead body. We had to climb over it, but as a government we have delivered a sensible, responsible and very fair system when it comes to paid parental leave. The minister at the table has been instrumental in delivering that. We do not talk about it; we have done it. It is just another one of the achievements of this government.

Members opposite talk about how dire the economy is. As I said, they have been through a period of denial. They have been denying that the global financial crisis existed. In fact, when we stepped up to the mark and we invested billions of dollars to stimulate the economy to keep the wheels of commerce in this country turning, they voted against it, or at least those that turned up in the chamber voted against it. We know that the Leader of the Opposition is someone who has been described by his former boss as someone who is economically illiterate and by his former colleague as someone who is bored by economics. So bored and so illiterate was he on this occasion that, when the biggest global economic crisis of a generation struck and our government was required to stand up and put in place policies to address that challenge, he did not even come into the chamber to vote on those important measures.

So, whilst the member for Berowra and the member for Goldstein do not have a lot of credibility, they do have this degree of credibility: the credibility they have is that they can say that at least they voted against the stimulus package. The member for North Sydney is now saying we need another stimulus package, so I think his defence is a bit more complicated, but the two members sitting on the front bench opposite at least had the stomach to walk into this place to stand up for their convictions, which was to take a path which, frankly, would have been a job-destroying course of action for the Australian economy. Think of the hundreds of thousands of Australians who would have lost their jobs and been put on the scrap heap of unemployment. Think of the wasted skills. Think of the wasted human capital of those people turfed out onto the unemployment queue, because if those opposite had been in government they would not have stimulated the economy the way we have.

Right around the world people have looked at the stimulus measures this government put in place and they say we have delivered. Why do they say that? They say it because our economy is growing stronger than any other major advanced economy—14 per cent larger today than when we came to office. We have a AAA credit rating from all three major ratings agencies. Those opposite come in and they lecture us about the golden era of economic management under the Howard and Costello government. They call it the golden era. The next member on that side of the chamber who stands up should tell us when they achieved the AAA credit rating from all three ratings agencies. Which year was it? Let us start at 1996: was it 1996? Was it 1997? Was it 1998? Was it any year all the way through to 2007?

Opposition members interjecting

Mr BRADBURY: They were still paying off debt in 2007, were they? We have had the Parliamentary Budget Office and a review by Treasury into the structural position of the budget and they say the same thing: those final few years in government from the Howard government squandered the opportunities of the mining boom. They put us into structural deficit. That is what those reports independently prepared have both said. It was because in the final years of the Howard government they spent like drunken sailors.

An opposition member interjecting

Mr BRADBURY: The member opposite says 'structural deficit' as if he has never heard the term. He should go and have a look at the Parliamentary Budget Office report. In fact, it is an opportune moment to remind him that we have put in place a Parliamentary Budget Office so that those opposite can avoid the ignominy and the embarrassment of what they faced at the last election. This is where the member for Goldstein gets uncomfortable and starts to move around in his seat and look at his shoes. He has to accept personal responsibility for the costings debacle of the last election, where after the election his policies were costed by the Treasury and found to have an $11 billion black hole. I remember growing up and watching a program on television, The Six Million Dollar Man. The member for Goldstein is the $11 billion man, and that is not a compliment. That is the size of the budget black hole that you left behind.

Mr Christensen interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): The member for Dawson is interjecting outside of his place in this chamber, and that is very disorderly.

Mr BRADBURY: They come in and say that the Australian economy is doing it tough. They ignore all of the objective evidence. They have a look and they say, 'Well, we don't think the economy is doing all that well. We think that the economy is tanking.'

Mr Christensen interjecting

Mr BRADBURY: I can understand why the member opposite does not want to talk about the economy. I will share with him some words of wisdom from someone who those opposite hail as being their great former leader, John Howard, the former member for Bennelong. John Howard does not have the same incentive to come up and mislead people in the way which those opposite do. In January this year he said:

When the Prime Minister and the Treasurer and others tell you that the Australian economy is doing better than most—they are right.

 

So if you are not prepared to believe the government when it comes to economic management credentials then I ask you to have a look at some objective indicators. Have a look at the AAA credit rating from all three major ratings agencies: it was never delivered when the coalition were in office. Have a look at what the former Liberal Prime Minister, John Howard, had to say. He said:

We are still fortunate that we have an unemployment rate with a five in front of it. I wouldn't have thought that was going to be possible a few years ago, and I don't think many people would.

When the member for North Sydney finished off his contribution by saying, 'All those opposite are interested in is their own jobs,' he should have acknowledged the point that his former leader acknowledged: that the jobs of hundreds and thousands of Australians have been secured and protected because of the action of this government. The member for North Sydney used the expression 'spiralling government debt'. What did the former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard have to say about this so-called spiralling government debt? He said:

And our debt to GDP ratio, the amount of money we owe to the strength of our economy, is still a lot better than most other countries.

I could rest my case on the words of John Howard. I could do that, but there are a couple of other important points I want to make. One is that those opposite talk about high-taxing governments. What they do not acknowledge is that the tax-to-GDP ratio under this government—that is, the amount of tax you collect as a proportion of the economy—is considerably lower today than it was when we came into office. It was 23.7 per cent when they left office. Today it is 21.5 per cent. To put that in context, one percentage point is equivalent to $15 billion a year. That means that, had we been taxing Australians at the same level as they were being taxed when we came into office, the budget would be in surplus today.

A question that those opposite might want to answer at some point is: do they give a commitment to keep the tax-to-GDP ratio at the level that it is at? If that is the case, then they have got some work to do because of the very few policies they have been prepared to share with us. The first one is their $20 billion paid parental leave tax, which will slug 3,000 of the most successful businesses operating in this country. They will do that—

Mr Robb interjecting

Mr BRADBURY: and I do not think the member for Goldstein believes in the paid parental leave tax, either. I think he was a dissenting voice in the shadow cabinet. Sorry, I forgot: this matter did not go to the shadow cabinet. This was one of those unilateral signature policies that the Leader of the Opposition decided he would implement. Then, if I recall correctly, when he took it to the party room he said, 'Sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission.' This is one occasion when he was asking for forgiveness. But I tell you: it is not the member for Goldstein he needs to forgive or needs to seek forgiveness from. He needs to seek forgiveness not just from the 3,000 successful Australian businesses that will be slugged with this tax but from the Australian people, who will face an increase in the cost of their goods and services when they go to the grocery store and in their mortgages. The banks have already indicated that they would need to increase mortgage rates to fund this paid parental leave tax. People will pay for it at the bowser, as the price of petrol goes up when petrol companies are slugged with this tax. And this will be a tax on miners as well, as much as the coalition might like to tell their friends in the mining sector that they will be a protected species under them.

The point is that, as a government, we have delivered sensible tax reforms that have delivered tax cuts to an overwhelming majority of Australians while, at the same time, we have committed to shoring up the tax base. Members would be aware that I have been talking a lot over time about the need to crack down on multinational taxation loopholes. Those opposite have voted against every measure we have put in place. Last night they did it again, with the changes to part IVA, the general anti-avoidance and transfer pricing provisions. They voted against it in the Senate. What I found extraordinary was that, at the very same time, the member for North Sydney was out there finally acknowledging what we have been saying, that there are problems with corporate tax loopholes:

The problem is that national taxation laws were essentially designed to cover domestically operating entities and while there have been amendments to account for cross-border activity, these additions have not been able to fully keep up.

He said we need to bring global tax rules into the 21st century. If he is fair dinkum then, when we bring in a proposal to do that, you should support it. That is not what you have been prepared to do, because you always stand up for lurks for corporate tax. (Time expired)