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Monday, 18 March 2013
Page: 2486


Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (12:41): I thank the member for Lyne for this motion on tax reform and the opportunity to talk on this important issue. Whilst I understand the member's motive, there is a fundamental flaw in this motion and, as a result, I will not be giving it my support.

Reading between the lines, this motion recognises that the government's tax policy is a mess. This position I agree with. There has been the failed carbon tax. There has been the failed mining resource rent tax that has raised virtually no money at all after administration, implementation and advertising costs are taken into account. There was the failed tax reform in October 2011. There was the government's extensive and expensive Henry tax review, but only 3½ of the review's 138 recommendations have been implemented—so much for following through. There was the failed business tax working group, with rumours that the government will still seek to use the discredited measures resulting from the working group. There are 27 new or increased taxes this government has implemented since coming into power. There is the $8 billion in company tax receipts the government brought forward in the 2012-13 MYEFO, and there is the $8 billion that this government has ripped out of superannuation since coming to power in November 2007. All of these points lead to one undeniable fact: that this government's tax policy is a mess. I agree with the member for Lyne that our government needs and deserves a much stronger quality of planning to form the foundations of reform in our taxation system and that this reform will help to maximise our constituents' standard of living over the long term.

However—and this is where I diverge from the member for Lyne—the solution will not be achieved with the request to this Treasurer to release yet another aspirational addendum to the budget papers. History has shown us that the words and numbers printed on these documents are often not worth the paper they are written on. My constituents in Bennelong will remember the government's promise in the 2010-11 MYEFO to commit $2.1 billion to the construction of the Epping to Parramatta rail link. Two and a half years later, not a penny has been spent, not a sod of soil has been turned.

It should be noted that our Prime Minister had the gall to return to this very location recently and make more promises to win these seats in Western Sydney, including a promise to fund roads in the region to $1 billion. Sound familiar? Well, if you con me once, shame on you; if you con me again, shame on me. People of Western Sydney, do not be shamed. This government has shown time and again that it is simply not up to the task and that it simply cannot be trusted.

The solution to this problem is not to tinker with this government's reporting obligations. The solution is to change the government. Regional communities like those represented by the member for Lyne can benefit greatly from tax reform; but, as we saw with the Henry tax review, this government is simply not fit for the job. The constituents of Lyne must question whether their member's decision to support this government was the right one.

One hundred and fifty years ago, the United States government, under President Lincoln, used 30-year government bonds to build the Transcontinental Railroad. Fifty years ago, the Japanese government built their first bullet train through a combination of low-interest loans and government bonds. There are many ways that tax policy and good governance can be used to build Australia and to increase the standard of living for our constituents. However, all this government can do is to make promises that get broken and then they fight each other over who is going to sit in the leader's chair. The government of a young country with great potential must have vision and the capacity to make long-term plans and then commit to the course to fulfil this potential. This course must not be changed on a daily basis to gain a favourable headline. Direction must remain steadfast. This government has lost direction by their own admission. They are constantly distracted on the bridge, and that puts us all in peril now and in the future. Strong policy requires leadership and long-term planning, and this will only be achieved through a change in government.