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Wednesday, 29 May 2013
Page: 4458


Mrs MARKUS (Macquarie) (15:30): I rise today to speak about the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) and Appropriation Bill (No. 2) for 2013-14.

It is clear that his nation is in the middle of a budget emergency. This emergency has been brought about by this government's inability to manage the finances of this nation. This bill shows once again that the government is seeking taxpayer funds to prop up their own fiscal mismanagement and is seeking to further burden the individual Australians and families of this nation.

Two weeks ago we witnessed this government's the sixth budget. Let me remind this chamber about what that budget delivered for the people of Australia: a fifth record deficit in five years and at least two more deficits to come; total gross debt which will breach the $300 billion-debt ceiling within forward estimates; record net debt of around $192 billion; no apparent credible path back to surplus; more broken promises, such as the scratched tax cuts and family payments; more than $25 billion in higher taxes over the next four years; an extra $100 million spending on government advertising; and borrowings per day of almost $50 million.

The budget was devoid of any good news for families at a time when so many are desperately seeking financial relief and support. It was empty of any good news for small business owners struggling to keep their heads above water. It did nothing to support our ageing population. This budget betrayed the trust of the Australian people because we know, despite promise after promise, that it did not deliver a surplus.

The Prime Minister told us that achieving a surplus was, 'the best thing we can do to help families with the cost-of-living pressures'—that was the Prime Minister's own quote. The Treasurer himself has said:

… meandering back to surplus— would compound the pressures in our economy and push up the cost of living for pensioners and working people.

Again, a quote by the Treasurer himself. This prediction was correct, and yet the Treasurer and the Prime Minister have once again delivered a budget that makes a mockery of their comments and places additional burdens on Australian families.

What families and Australians are asking for every day is stability, consistency and a sense of certainty. They want to know that they can rely on what the government of the day is saying. But what the government says and does are two separate things; and what the government says today is often, and is, very different to what it may say tomorrow, or next week or next month.

Again, this budget has delivered chaos, more debt and many words which amount to spin. First there was the broken promise that the indexation of the childcare rebate would recommence in 2014. At a time when childcare costs are increasing for families, this decision will hurt many financially. We also know that families will also be worse off after the government announced an extension to the indexation pauses on income thresholds to family payments and FBT supplement payment until 2017. The decision will impact a staggering 1.5 million families who receive the family tax benefit part A and 1.3 million families who receive the family tax benefit part B.

Then, as I mentioned, there is the $25 billion in higher taxes over the next four years. This budget will collect more tax than any other government in history. What is astonishing to me about this budget is the amount of wasteful spending—spending at the expense of everyday Australians. There is $100 million in new government advertising. What a waste. And $5 million of this advertising budget will be used to spruik the NBN. This is while suburbs in the electorate of Macquarie, including Blackheath, Mount Victoria, Hazelbrook, Wentworth Falls, Leura and Katoomba in the Blue Mountains as well as Freemans Reach, Glossodia, Kurrajong Heights, Cattai and Grose Vale in Hawkesbury are yet to receive the commencement date when the NBN will be rolled out in their area. While my constituents are desperate for broadband and reliable telecommunications, this government is more interested in spin and dazzle rather than in any real substance. What this government has failed to recognise is what only the coalition seems to understand: government does not create wealth, people do. Government spending is not a free gift but something that everyone is paying for, now and in the future.

This budget also makes me question the government's commitment to infrastructure, especially within the Greater Western Sydney region. The coalition has already committed $1.5 billion to WestConnex in Sydney. This funding will enable an upgrade and an extension of the M4 that will better link Western Sydney with the inner west, the city and the airport, something that is very much needed for people commuting, particularly from the lower Blue Mountains but also from the greater Blue Mountains area and the Hawkesbury, to the city. However, Labor has strings attached to the phantom $1.8 billion it has promised. Of the $1.8 billion Labor has pledged to WestConnex, only $200 million is in the forward estimates over the next four years, which falls far short of $1.8 billion. The bulk of funding, some $1.4 billion, does not kick in under Labor until 2019-20 to 2022-23. With the majority of funding put off for another two elections, this funding is just another Labor mirage.

This government's track record is an absolute disgrace, and the blow-outs are continuing. Labor has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Revenue in 2013-14 is projected to be $80 billion higher than at the end of the Howard government, yet the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, plans to deliver this sixth deficit in a row because spending in 2013-14 will be $120 billion higher than at the end of the Howard government. In his budget speech the Treasurer blames the high Australian dollar for having 'savaged' revenues, yet this is the one assumption in last year's budget that was actually right. With Australia's terms of trade still extraordinarily high—15 per cent higher than at any time during the Howard government—the budget should already be back in surplus. But over the last five years the government has spent $192 billion more than it has raised. Expenditure as a percentage of GDP has been higher every year under Labor compared to in the last years of the Howard government. The expenditure is absolutely out of control.

The two words that the Treasurer has used to frame Labor's approach are jobs and growth, yet his own budget forecasts show the opposite. Real GDP growth is forecast in his budget to slow down to 2.75 per cent in 2014 from three per cent this year. The unemployment rate is expected to rise to 5.75 per cent in the first two years from 5.5 per cent at present. This government has shown time and time again that it lacks the discipline and the courage to make the hard decisions to bring the budget back under control and to do what needs to be done to help, enable and facilitate Australian families make the choices to get ahead.

The coalition will not shirk the tough calls. We have the record to prove we are serious. The coalition left Labor with a $20 billion surplus, no net debt and an unemployment rate of around four per cent. The coalition has a positive plan to create a diverse, powerhouse economy that can create 1 million new jobs over the next five years and 2 million new jobs over the next decade. We will offer consistency and stability in government. We will restore sound public finances. We will get rid of waste and get Australia back on a fiscally responsible path. I can reassure families and pensioners that we will also fully retain the income tax cuts and fortnightly pension and benefit increases associated with the carbon tax. This will enable households to plan their futures without anxiety and with a level of confidence. This commitment is fully funded and will be offset by equivalent reductions in government spending. We will restore sound public finances.

We will have respect for taxpayers by lowering taxes, starting with the removal of the carbon tax and mining tax. We will boost productivity with our six-point productivity plan in industrial relations and we will restore the 'cop on the beat', the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The growth of government must be displaced by fostering robust growth of our millions of small and large businesses and by restoring consumer confidence to spend.

This is what a coalition government will do: we will end the chaos, the debt, and the devastation and take this nation to a brighter future. We will provide a platform for individuals, families and businesses to develop and invest in their visions and plans for the future—to create greater opportunities, not only for themselves and their communities, but for the people they employ, their children and their neighbours. This is an opportunity leading up to the next election for Australians to decide their future. What we are committed to is ensuring that every Australian has the chance to take hold of the opportunities that this nation can provide for them. Australians have the potential to achieve and reach the dreams set before them, but they need a platform of encouragement—a platform where they understand there is a sense of security; a platform that they can leap from, knowing that their investments will reap a reward.