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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 3785


Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (16:10): The admirable Assistant Treasurer—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Dawson should have listened earlier when I said that people will use appropriate titles or they will not be heard.

Mr CHRISTENSEN: The Assistant Treasurer and the member for Chifley talked about Clive Palmer and the CIA. I do not know about the CIA but, gee, I wish I had one of those memory erasers that the Men in Black have because I cannot get back the 25 minutes of my life that was just wasted listening to the previous member's speech, but at least I can forget about it.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this matter of public importance, which is:

The urgent need for the Government to deliver budget transparency for the business community.

The words of those opposite might rubbish billionaires but their economic policies rubbish families and small businesses right across this nation. Transparency is definitely needed. It is not just an urgent matter for business; it is an urgent matter for the community and the country as a whole.

Small business is the backbone of this country. It is small business that finds itself at the pointy end of some of the worst policies that any Australian government has ever produced. When small business is hurting, families are hurting. Right now small businesses are at a loss as to what the future holds for them. They see a government that is out of control. They see a government that is going out of its way to destroy the economy, industries, jobs and, quite honestly, families. They see a government desperately trying to hide—like a bunch of school kids who just broke the vase—the evidence, trying to hide the broken pieces of the economy and sweeping the evidence of their own recklessness and stupidity straight under the carpet. Manufacturing a network of deceit and fabrication to cover its tracks is not the answer.

The business community needs certainty and not the certainty that is being peddled by this government, not the certainty of tax, tax, tax and more tax, for that is certain failure. The best predictor of future behaviour for this government is its past behaviour. We look and see what this government has done. It is desperately trying to hide all of these failures, trying to sweep them under the rug and trying to hide the cost blowouts. In so many different programs it is trying to hide the waste, trying to hide the record budget deficits and trying to hide the record debt. But the problem is that there is no rug big enough to hide all that because it needs a bigger and bigger rug every day.

Remember when the government said the 2011-12 budget deficit would be $12 billion? That was just 12 months ago. Then it was revised to $22.6 billion. The budget deficit has almost doubled in a year.

Mr Ewen Jones: It's worse than that.

Mr CHRISTENSEN: You think it would not get any worse than that, as the member for Herbert said, but now somehow the most recent budget update puts it at $37 billion. Is it even possible that anyone in the world—the world's greatest Treasurer, for instance—could be that incompetent with a budget forecast? Maybe not, because the 2011-12 year is another write-off for this Labor government and another write-off for this nation. It is another Labor deficit to add to the collection. If you are going to stuff it up in the great old Labor tradition, you might as well go all the way; you might as will push as many costs under that rug as you can. You might as well take some costs out of future budget deficits and stick them under the rug too.

What we have is a smoke and mirrors situation going on in this government in a desperate bid to produce a budget surplus, just one. We are hoping you can get it, guys, just one. For the benefit of those of us who have never seen a Labor surplus in our lifetime, such as the member for Longman on this side, let us see if you can get it or at least get another rug to cover up what will turn out to be another deficit for as long as it takes to get to an election.

While the government is trying to manufacture their first surplus, we have minister after minister come into this place to justify their economy-destroying policies, the ones we were told would not happen—there will be no carbon tax under this rug. The carbon tax cannot be hidden any longer. We have seen the Labor Party and the Greens constructing this elaborate new paradigm that is supposed to stop a tax from being a tax. They try to justify the carbon tax with the illusion that there will be this wealth of green jobs. So where are these green jobs? Ask Spain how they are going to get all their green jobs and how they are going with that. Go down to Immigration and ask them, because that is where they are—all the young unemployed are coming to Australia because the whole green job thing did not quite work out for them.

In addition to the green jobs furphy, the government have tried to invent this new economy. That is because they stuffed up the old one. You can only talk about a new economy for so long because eventually people stop and realise, 'Hang on, this is just the old economy except there are fewer jobs and we are worse off.' The government try to dress up their carbon tax as the clean energy future, but what business really wants is for government to be the ones who come clean—to tell the truth. Business wants to know where they truly stand, not where the government can make people think they stand. And if they are going to come clean on the carbon tax they should do the same with the mining tax. Let us not try to justify this bad tax by selling it as something that it is not. The government cannot keep saying to businesses that they are spreading the wealth around to every postcode, in that dull voice that the Treasurer says it in. Giving a one per cent tax cut to companies is not spreading the wealth around; it is only giving a little break to companies. The government might be able to con a lot of the people like that but not small businesses.

Most businesses are small and it is small businesses that are more likely than not—70 per cent of them, in fact—to be sole traders or partnerships, not companies. They will not be the beneficiaries of this spreading of the wealth, but they will be the ones paying the extra three per cent in superannuation that the government desperately is trying to say it is doing. What a disgrace and what an affront to businesses around this nation for the government to say that it is the one creating the super when it is actually businesses doing it. That is not spreading wealth, it is increasing the burden even more. It should not try and justify the mining tax by telling us that it is going to fund things that it is clearly not going to fund. As a bit of a segue here, it is incredible that we had the Leader of the House give this statement today. He is now the minister for urban rorts: snout-in-the-trough Albanese rorting roads funding right into his own electorate. But we had the Leader of the House—

Mr Perrett: Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order that goes to relevance and misleading of the House. I know you were busy at the time, but it is about a reflection on the Leader of the House by the member for Dawson.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): I did not hear the reflection. Someone was getting my attention to my side, so I cannot rule on that, but if the member for Dawson would assist the chamber—

Mr CHRISTENSEN: I will withdraw, Mr Deputy Speaker. We had the Leader of the House here yesterday telling us the mining tax was going to fund the Peak Downs Highway, an important project for the region that I live in but, according to the budget, the work will actually start before the mining tax revenue kicks in. He goes on to say that the mining tax is going to fund the Mackay ring road study, which has already been done at a cost of $10 million. So the government cannot claim the mining tax is going to fund something that has happened in the past, unless the minister has a TARDIS. I am eagerly waiting next week's episode to see if the mining tax is going to fund the Sydney Harbour Bridge; it is only eighty years old.

The only way the government could create a good economy is to start with great one. You only have to look at Australia's gross debt, which is third only to Iceland and Ireland, to see how they have managed to do that. Imagine what a real government could have done from the position this economy was in when Labor took over. For a start, there was money in the bank, not a record debt. Thanks to Labor's reckless spending, Australia is now forced to pay $6 billion a year in interest on the debt they have created. Coincidently it is estimated the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which we support, would cost around $6 billion a year to implement. Labor is trying to create this illusion that it is going to fund the NDIS and the coalition is not. Well, if Labor supported it it would be in its budget this year. On this side of the House we support the NDIS, and we have the ability to fix the economy so that it can become a reality. In asking for transparency we ask for truth, because we have had a very, very long time where we have had exactly the opposite from this government.