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Wednesday, 29 May 2013
Page: 4488


Mr IRONS (Swan) (17:45): I rise today to speak on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2013-2014. The Treasurer's budget speech was a massive disappointment for Australia—and by the look on the members' faces opposite, as the Treasurer was delivering his budget it was a disappointment for them as well. I have always believed that our history—personal and collective—can guide us into the future with smarter and better decisions, hopefully with the aim of improving our future.

I looked back at one of my earlier budget replies, and this is what I said: 'For me, it was a gentle reminder to look back to the 2007 election and the period prior to that, when the Labor campaign machine promised a great deal to the people of Australia. This was a party that promised to the Australian people that they were economic conservatives. This was the party that said, "We will deliver a strong economy and take Australia forward with a new vision." The expectations of Australians have not been met.' I should have added at the end: 'Nor have the promises been realised', but I will have more to say about the promises later.

That part of a previous speech of mine, even before this 43rd parliament started, is still relevant about the latest budget. On 14 May, the Treasurer had to stand and deliver a speech telling the Australian public and all Australian businesses that he and his budgets are failures. They are complete failures. To be fair to the Treasurer I need to state where he failed. It is as simple as this. In the Treasurer's 2012 budget speech he stated:

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.

This Budget delivers a surplus this coming year, on time, as promised, and surpluses each year after that, strengthening over time.

It funds new cost of living relief for Australian families.

It helps businesses invest, compete and adapt to an economy in transition.

There we see that the Treasurer and his delivered surplus budgets have failed. At the end of the quote from the Treasurer he mentioned that our economy is in transition. On Monday this week, the Treasurer again stated, during question time, that the economy is in transition.

How long does this government need to keep rolling out the same old spin? Every time, they realise they have made another stuff-up. Maybe the Treasurer needs to use the correct word—this isn't an economy in transition, it is an economy that has been trashed. During the 2012 speech, the Treasurer also stated:

A surplus provides our best defence against dramatic changes in the global economy.

He then went on to say:

It is these responsible decisions which return the Budget to a $1.5 billion surplus in 2012-13, and growing every year after that.

This delivers on our commitment to the Australian people on time, as promised, and ahead of every major advanced economy.

There is a word in there that the Australian people and the people of my electorate just do not believe from this government any more—it is the word 'promised'.

Many times we have heard the word promised from this government in relation to policy, budget or actions. No one believes or can believe the promises of this government any more. This budget has confirmed that this government has no financial or management skills and is in complete chaos. This budget delivers nothing to help Australian families deal with cost-of-living pressures, economic uncertainty, poor services and poor service delivery. The 2013 budget's only effects are: to increase gross debt and to breach the $300 billion debt ceiling within the forward estimates; to be the fifth Labor deficit in five years with the promise of at least two more to come; no pathway back to a budget that is believable; more broken promises such as the scrapped tax cuts and family payments; and more than $25 billion in higher taxes over the next four years and an extra $100 billion spending on government advertising.

The Treasurer of Australia has delivered deficit after deficit for six years. This carries on the proud Labor tradition of delivering deficits, with the last budget surplus delivered by Labor in 1989. What is it that prevents Labor from delivering the surplus, even after bragging and boasting that they will? And now in this budget, Labor is saying the deficit is a good thing. I wonder if the former Labor treasurers get together to boast over old times and biggest deficits, and whether it is like a badge of honour to achieve the biggest deficit and the most debt! If they do, I am sure our current Treasurer, Mr Swan, certainly wins by a country mile. I wonder if there is a perpetual trophy that is big enough to carry all the high-achieving deficit years—or maybe there is an honour board that carries the years and names of the treasurers for each of those years.

The plain fact is that debt continues to rise and borrowings per day will rise to almost $50 million per day. The budget was not that well received by industry and business. Many people have made comments about their view of the budget. My own personal background is 25 years in small business. I know in my electorate there are over 17,000 businesses. We have businesses like Crown Perth, we have racetracks, we have greyhounds, and we have the Kewdale transport hub which has the biggest transport road and rail hub in Western Australia. When I was in business in 1992-1993 under Keating, we went through enormous stress—and it is this that my electorate is also feeling at the moment. Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia, Lee White, said:

If we get the right fundamentals in place for small business, the overall performance of our economy will be substantial.

The sting from economic pressure points, both locally and globally, reverberates through the Australian community. The small end of town shares that pain, and we see from tonight’s Budget that the government is feeling it too.

With that in mind, the federal government should be doing much more for small businesses to ease some of the burdens they face.

Mr Andrew Conway, CEO of the Institute of Public Accountants, said:

Instead of a reduction in the regulatory burden and provision of long sought after tax breaks to support the vital small business sector, we find ourselves with yet another Budget that will do nothing to promote the small business sector.

…   …   …

The Budget is noticeable for what it doesn't include rather than inclusion of any significant measures for reform. We need a plan to build and sustain the future wellbeing of the small business sector so that it can continue to make a vital contribution to the Australian economy.

These comments are hardly an endorsement of this 2013 budget, that only offers more debt. I will offer one more assessment, from the Australian Food and Grocery Council CEO, Gary Dawson. He said there was little in the budget to stimulate growth and confidence, and nothing to relieve the ever increasing regulatory burden on business:

In addition, a number of the savings measures such as the axing of the baby bonus, tax increases, deferral of tax cuts and reductions in family assistance, will further crimp consumer spending in an already weak economy.

Food and grocery manufacturers and suppliers have been reporting for some time the negative combined effects of the high Australian dollar, rising input costs and retail price deflation, creating the most challenging trading conditions for decades.

The dramatic swing from a forecast surplus to deep deficits this year and next must raise serious doubts about the government's predicted return to surplus in 2016/17. Massive budget deficits create a climate of uncertainty for business which undermines confidence and investment, essential to underpin jobs and growth.

…   …   …

However for a trade exposed sector that is critical to the nation's manufacturing base there is nothing in this budget to attack the regulatory burden choking investment and growth.

Earlier this week, the shadow Treasurer gave his speech on the budget. I must admit he gave the House some great insights into his views of the Treasurer and of his budget. Actually, some of his comments were so good I cannot avoid quoting them. The member for North Sydney said:

If a temporary deficit in 2008 looks like being seven deficits in a row, that would have made World War II very temporary. It went for six years—less than the deficit period of the Labor Party.

The shadow Treasurer also said:

Labor have never delivered a surplus and never will. It is not in their DNA. That was best illustrated by the carbon tax package, when they raised the tax and then spent all of the money and more, and the mining tax package, where they raised the tax and then spent money against it, and more. If, on individual taxes like that, the government not only go to spend it but actually go to spend more, then that would say to you this is not a government that is capable of living within its means.

So there is a clear sign that the Treasurer is delusional, and I think I have some basis for saying so.

The shadow Treasurer went on to describe the budget as atrocious and to talk about structural surpluses that we all know the coalition just could not avoid and that our current Labor government just cannot give Australia.

Recently we have heard that this government does not have a revenue problem, as repeatedly claimed by the Treasurer. The real problem is that this Labor government has a spending problem that it is addicted to. To give evidence of this, the Treasurer in his first five budgets has spent $191 billion more than has been raised in revenue. The Treasurer is taking Australia to more than $300 billion worth of gross debt, having inherited a very strong budget position from the coalition in 2007. The real tragedy is that the Treasurer has learned nothing from his previous five budget failures, and it is very clear now that in this budget he is still up to his old tricks. The Treasurer is still overestimating revenue by including completely unbelievable revenue assumptions in the budget. The Treasurer wants us to believe that mining tax revenue, for example, is going to increase by 1,000 per cent from this year to the last year of the forward estimates. That is just not going to happen. Madam Deputy Speaker, as you would know, many people call the mining tax the WA tax, as we are the state that is potentially most affected by it. But, as I stated before, it is a tax that has delivered nothing but a lack of confidence by investors in the mining industry. The mining tax is just another example of a Treasurer who just cannot deliver.

In Western Australia many constituents are deeply concerned about border security and illegal immigration. This concern is justified by the budget blow-out and the fact that we had a boat turning up in Geraldton harbour. Under Labor, the number of illegal arrivals by boat has increased from two people per month in 2007-08 to more than 2,000 per month this year, 2012-13. If you looked at a graph which showed the growth of illegal arrivals, the steep incline starts in 2008, just after this government changed the rules that the coalition had implemented, known as the Pacific Solution. During the same time, the number of people in immigration detention who arrived by boat has increased from just four people when the coalition left office to more than 23,000, who were in the detention network or on bridging visas in the community as of 10 May.

Labor have lost control of our borders and lost control of the budget. The arrival of two more illegal boats with a total of more than 160 people on board means that May is the second consecutive month in which more than 3,000 people have arrived illegally by boat. This can only end with more cost, chaos and tragedy. The latest arrivals have come as immigration department officials this week confirmed during Senate estimates that the Labor government had based their budget on 13,200 people arriving on illegal boats next financial year. I cannot imagine that anyone would believe that figure and how you could forecast that figure when the fact is that more than 22,000 illegal arrivals have come so far this financial year—a figure which the department said could hit 25,000 by the end of June. This is typical of Labor underestimating things like expenditure. Labor always underestimates the cost of their failure on our borders, an underestimation currently running at more than $10 billion of taxpayer's money.

I would like to say to all the people in my electorate what the coalition will do if we are elected to government on 14 September. To the electors of Swan: the choice of our next government will be a choice between more broken promises and more debt and more taxes, or a change of government to the coalition, who have an experienced front bench and many people from many walks of life in our party to give the necessary experience to a coalition government that can rebuild our economy but also give you the government you can trust. We will abolish the carbon tax. We will reduce emissions with targeted incentives, not a tax that clobbers business and people. We will abolish the mining tax that drives confidence and investment away from Australia. We will cut red tape and regulation to small business enabling them to grow and prosper and this will boost productivity. We will introduce a paid parental leave scheme, we will revitalise the work for the dole scheme. As the Leader of the Opposition said, the coalition has a plan to build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia. We pledge ourselves to your service. (Time expired)