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Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Page: 5375


WYATT ROY (Longman) (10:17): Hope, reward and opportunity—they may be three small words but their meaning represents values far greater. Hope reward and opportunity: this is what our country needs right now and this is what the coalition can deliver to the people of Australia. The Australia that I know is one with hope for every young person to be rewarded for their efforts with endless opportunities for their future, and an Australia that allows any young person with the desire to achieve and the hard work to go with it to enjoy a comfortable life. That is the Australian dream.

To maintain this dream we need a nation not afraid to be bold in its vision and a government that can foster such a society. It is for this reason that I rise to speak today, because the coalition has a vision and a strong plan for Australia's future: a plan to restore hope, reward and opportunity. The coalition has a strong plan that will see Australians have confidence in their economy, confidence in their government and confidence in their future—a strong plan that will see the carbon tax and the mining tax abolished and swift action to reduce the overbearing cost of living and ease the burden on Australians.

The coalition has a proven fiscal record. In my lifetime, the coalition has delivered 10 budget surpluses while Labor has delivered 10 budget deficits. We know that just as families need to live on their means so too do governments. In the coalition, we are governed by a belief that governments do not have any money of their own: they only have the people's money held in trust, and this money should be used wisely and sufficiently. We respect taxpayers' money, which is why a coalition government will eliminate government waste and mismanagement. We will boost productivity, deliver lower and simpler taxation and improve public finances.

Our vision for the future is for an even better Australia: one with secure jobs and a healthy small business sector, and one which looks after its most vulnerable with a hand-up instead of a handout. The coalition will provide practical and real environmental action to protect our irreplaceable natural environment, in stark contrast to Labor's carbon tax, which is little more than socialism masquerading as environmentalism. We will implement real measures, sensible measures. We will take genuine action by introducing incentives to boost renewable energy use and reduce emissions from the oldest and most inefficient power stations. We will go about this in a way that protects jobs and energy security while keeping electricity prices in check. We will invest $100 million each year for one million solar energy homes by 2020 and will support initiatives to plant 20 million trees in available public spaces. We will establish an emissions reduction fund to support the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from business and industry. Through the fund, we will support 140 million tonnes of abatement per annum by 2020 to meet our target of a five per cent reduction. All of this will be done with carrots instead of a heavy-handed stick.

As a nation we have a responsibility to provide a security net for our most vulnerable and in need. In this vein, a coalition government will make a strong investment in mental health. We will put forward $1.5 billion for a mental health plan that will establish 20 early psychosis prevention and intervention centres with 800 beds for acute and subacute care, as well as an additional 60 headspace sites providing young people with support and services for mental health and general wellbeing.

The coalition will also build a strong future with a hand-up for Australian families. Our paid maternity plan will provide real support for families with 26 weeks of paid parental leave at full replacement wage. We recognise the need for a plan to tackle the challenges that lie ahead, to manage our population, productivity and workforce participation. The coalition's plan is about genuine assistance to enable women to remain in the workforce if they so choose.

The coalition will also provide a hand-up for our health system. We will build a stronger health system by handing power back to communities. Australians do not want their money being wasted on layers of bureaucracy. Australians would be best served by those on the ground—the doctors and nurses who know our hospitals best—those professionals who are the ones best placed to make day-to-day decisions to maximise the responsiveness and efficiency of our hospitals. These professionals will be part of community boards filled with community representatives who have real financial, managerial and medical experience.

The coalition will give a kick start to the future of infrastructure by declaring the coalition government's priorities publicly within 12 months of taking office and, in consultation with the states, announcing construction timetables. We will have the Productivity Commission examine possible means to get more private funding into high-priority infrastructure projects.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 10:23 to 10:35

WYATT ROY: As I was saying, a coalition government will have the Productivity Commission examine possible means to get more private funding into high-priority infrastructure projects and a coalition government will task Infrastructure Australia with preparing a rolling 15-year national infrastructure plan with designated priorities based on a publicised cost-benefit analysis.

We believe in a stronger economy built on an efficient government, not on waste and mismanagement. This is why a coalition government would establish a once-in-a-generation commission of audit of all government—all arms of agencies of government—to ensure that there is no waste and no mismanagement, to ensure that taxpayers are getting the best value for their hard earned dollars.

A coalition government would waste no time in getting started on the job ahead. On day one, we would order the carbon tax repealed. Within a month, the commission of audit would be making government more efficient. Within three months, the parliament would be dealing with the carbon tax, the mining tax and border protection legislation. It will take a coalition government, a government from this side of the chamber, with a proven track record on balancing budgets, to implement these programs.

We on this side of the House will not simply wait around for this bad government to pass. Already the coalition has begun work. In fact, the coalition's deregulation task force has already started work to meet its goal of identifying $1 billion worth of red tape that can be cut per annum. We will restore hope and reward. Australians need hope. They need hope when they open their mail to find that their electricity costs have gone up again. They have gone up 66 per cent since Labor took office. They need hope when they see their gas prices have gone up 39 per cent and that their education and health costs have gone up 25 per cent since Labor took office.

Seventy years ago yesterday, the forefather of this side of the House, Sir Robert Menzies, spoke of the forgotten people. I believe the people of Australia have once again been forgotten by a Labor government, and they have no hope that this Labor government is fighting for them. It is little wonder that Australians feel this way. Under this Labor government they have been hit with 26 new and increased taxes. The costs of living are increasing for everyday Australians. Home ownership is less affordable. Interest rates have been going up and wages have declined. Real household wealth has declined, net job availability has declined and productivity has stagnated. This does not paint a good picture for the future of Australia.

Despite its 26 new grabs at families' back pockets, this Labor government has delivered the four biggest budget deficits in Australian history, with a $44 billion deficit this year alone. This is a government that has turned a $20 billion surplus into $174 billion of accumulated deficits. It has turned $70 billion of net assets into what is climbing to a record $144.9 billion of net debt. It has managed to tally up daily interest bills of $22 million. And now it wants to increase Australia's debt ceiling to $300 billion, almost four times higher than it was in 2008. This government wants to increase the limit on Australia's credit card so that it can continue to rack up an interest bill and a debt burden that will be carried across generations of Australians to come. Now we are looking down the barrel of the world's biggest carbon tax. On 1 July this year the carbon tax will push up prices, including the costs of everyday essentials—electricity, groceries, and health care—for all Australian families. This great big new tax will push up electricity prices by 10 per cent immediately. How many Australian jobs will suffer because of this great big new tax? How many businesses will feel the pain as their overheads increase and their ability to employ, prosper and create wealth is once again diminished by this incompetent Labor government?

There is a better way. We need a government that will scrap unnecessary taxes, cut wasteful spending and reduce the tax burden on business. We need a government that is guided by the belief that governments do not have any money of their own; they only have the people's money held in trust. We need a government that is prepared to restore hope, reward and opportunity. We need a government that understands that a hand up is better than a handout. We need a government that understands that opportunity is always better than subsidy. We need a government that understands that all Australians should have freedom of choice. We need a government that rewards hard work instead of penalising it. These are the fundamental principles that will always guide us as Liberals. They are the principles that the Labor Party will never understand. While we will always believe that Australians know how to spend their money better than anyone else, the Labor Party believes that the government knows better than the people. It will always be driven by a desire to spend more and more of Australian's hard earned tax dollars.

Let us look at Labor's record. We have seen constant examples of waste and mismanagement from a government that refuses to rein in its spending on poorly planned and executed programs. Over the past four years we have seen a program giving away set-top boxes at $700 each—something that could have been purchased and installed commercially for less than half the price—we have seen $1 billion spent on installing pink batts in homes and another $1 billion to pull them out again, and we have seen the blatant disregard for taxpayers' money that was the school hall rip-offs. Now we are seeing broken promises from the Labor government. We have seen in this cook-the-books budget broken promises on foreign aid spending, broken promises on company tax cuts, broken promises on Defence Force funding and of course the biggest broken promise of them all: the carbon tax. Australians deserve better.

The debt that this Labor government has accrued in just a few short years has a generation of Australians destined to spend their entire working lives repaying it. This Labor government has left my generation to carry the burden of its reckless decisions. We will carry that burden for the course of our working lives. It is clear that this Labor government has forgotten the people of Australia and what they want.

The locals in my community have a fair expectation that their government should take the pressure off in budgets, that their government should facilitate a prosperous economy that has increasing job opportunities, that their government should live within its means as they have to—not on the credit card—and that their government should value their money and deliver better services and infrastructure. Australians want a government that can deliver an economic strategy that builds a stronger Australia, with a broad based economy that reduces cost-of-living pressures and creates secure jobs. A coalition government will do just this. A coalition government will value the hard earned dollars of the Australian people.

Our country will face challenges in the future. My generation will carry the debt burden of Labor. My generation will see the challenges of an ageing population, where we will inevitably have a greater burden on government drawing from a smaller tax base. We will face the challenge of a post-mining-boom economy. As a nation we must meet these challenges from a position of strength. We must take advantage of the opportunities we have now. To meet these challenges we need to grow the productive capacity of the economy; we need to see more Australians earning higher real wages.

It is here that we see the fundamental philosophical divide in our nation. While Labor still believes that it can tax a nation into prosperity, we Liberals know the exact opposite to be true. As the great forefather of the Liberal tradition in this country, Sir Robert Menzies, said, 'We are a tax reduction party'. Menzies understood, as the coalition does today, that 'tax reductions would be the best of all incentives to increase effort, earnings and production.'

As I said in my first speech in this place, it is the Liberal side of politics that is the side of opportunity. We are the party based on encouragement rather than subsidy and on a hand up rather than a handout. It is because of these philosophical beliefs that we will always fight for lower taxes, smaller and more efficient government and the individual's right to choose. (Time expired)