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Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Page: 9418

Mr CIOBO (MoncrieffParliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (16:03): Once again, we hear the Australian Labor Party come into the chamber and rail. We hear words like 'justice', 'equity' and 'fairness'. We hear the shadow Treasurer railing about how the government is being arrogant. I think his choice quote was how, as a government, we were treating the parliament and the people with contempt. These are pretty serious charges. How arrogant and contemptuous of us as a government to deliver a promise! How arrogant and contemptuous of us as a government to go to the Australian people before the last election and say, 'If we get elected, because the Labor Party has put the budget in such a stew, we are going to abolish the mining tax and we are going to abolish all the spending associated with the mining tax.' And then, what did we do? We followed through on our commitment. Guilty! Seriously, this is the shadow Treasurer, the man who presided over a spectacular calamity when it came to Australia's finances, now standing up and hectoring and standing up with moral indignation about how inequitable it is, how unfair it is and how Australia will be in a worse situation all because the government is doing what we said we would do.

Look at this joke of a shadow Treasurer and this joke of an opposition. This is the reason the Australian people reject them and reject their approach. They made that point crystal clear in September last year. They made that point crystal clear. Despite the fact that the Australian Labor Party likes to pretend or likes to think that the Australian people are stupid, they are not. They are smart and they recognise when a government has reached its use-by date as the Australian Labor Party did. But the fundamental problem is that Labor has not heeded the lesson. Labor has not listened to the verdict of the Australian people. Instead of actually recognising the shortcomings on their part, they stand up and huff and puff and try to make out that the fault lies with the government. The fact is that we are a government that has honoured yet another commitment. We are government that are implementing the meaningful, mature, methodical approach to governance that the Australian people had a yearning for and that they called out for last September. It is this government and not all the hot wind from the opposition that is going to make a long-term difference to the Australian people. It is this government's decisions—although not universally popular—

Ms Macklin: That's for sure!

Mr CIOBO: and we know that—that we know are in the national interest. I will take a decision in the national interest over short-term populism every day of the week, Member for Jagajaga, every day of the week. That is what we were elected to do. We were elected to make the hard decisions. We were elected to make decisions that mean this country is on a long-term sustainable pathway. We reject entirely Labor's short-term, knee-jerk approach to politics, because we know, as the Australian people know, that Labor's approach is nothing but a recipe to land us in the same hot water that short-term thinking in Europe landed most European countries in. We know that hard decisions need to be made and that you do not always do what is popular but what is right, because that is what governments are meant to do.

So, when I hear the Australian Labor Party start screeching on about how people say one thing and do another, I scratch my head and think, 'Well, that's slightly hypocritical'. We already know that we said something before the election. We said we would abolish the mining tax and we said that we would abolish the spending associated with the mining tax, and that is what we have done. So, there has been 100 per cent consistency with what we said we would do. Let us contrast that with Labor's record. Let us contrast it with what Labor's approach has been. There is quite a track record there. Who could forget, in 2012, the member for Lilley, the then Australian Treasurer, standing up at this very dispatch box, saying:

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.

That was the member for Lilley, on 8 May 2012. So, I say to the Australian Labor Party: seriously, take you hand off it; enough is enough. It is about time the Australian Labor Party stopped having a lend, because we know that this is a government that delivers on its commitments. It contrasts with the Australian Labor Party, who had an approach of saying exactly the same as they do today—saying whatever they think they need to say because they think there is a vote in it. That is not the coalition's approach. So I am happy to be compared, and the government is happy to be compared, every single day on delivering on our commitments versus Labor not delivering on their commitments.

But there is more, with respect to the superannuation guarantee charge. We see the Australian Labor Party, once again, railing about the fact that we have deferred the increase in the superannuation guarantee. I feel a little bit sorry for the member for Fraser, because how many times have we seen government ministers—and I would not say 'unfairly'—making hay of the fact that the Shadow Assistant Treasurer has written in a very strident way about his strong support for a Medicare copayment? We know that does not sit comfortably with them because it is contrary to Labor Party policy. You can imagine that on the Labor Party's side probably a lot of them would be concerned about what it is that the Shadow Assistant Treasurer has actually said. But I think Labor has a problem, because what do they do when the actual Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Labor Party, makes a comment that 'analysis suggests that, over time, superannuation guarantee increases have come out of wages rather than profits'? I think the member for Fraser should be feeling quite good about himself. It has not stopped the Leader of the Opposition from rising to his position. Now the member for Fraser is in good company, because both he and the Leader of the Opposition have a point of policy that is different to Labor's actual policy. We know that the Leader of the Opposition said that superannuation guarantee increases have come out of wages rather than profits. Well, good news, Leader of the Opposition: because of the deal that the coalition has delivered today, because of our deal to repeal the mining tax that was making this country less competitive, because of our deal to make sure that as a nation we are back on a sustainable fiscal pathway by cutting, unfortunately, expenditure that ideally we would not have to—but let us make no mistake about the fact that we are doing it because of the state of the books left to us by the Australian Labor Party—we are leaving more money in people's pockets, just as the Leader of the Opposition said was the case in relation to the superannuation guarantee and just as we know is a fact.

I repeat to the Australian Labor Party: if they are serious about increases in the superannuation guarantee, they need to make sure that those increases and those policy positions are sustainable and funded, because the easy thing, the indulgent thing and in fact the reckless thing to do is to come into this chamber and to huff and puff but not to have any money to pay for it. I go back to one fundamental tenet. It is a point I have raised in this chamber before, and it is a point that I will raise every single day in relation to this notion of fairness and equity. We hear the charge levelled against all of us on this side of the House about how grossly unfair we are and how as a government we are so inequitable. And I just make the point again that every day of every week I will stand up for a government that lives within its means, that does not mortgage future generations of Australians, that does not say to Australian kids today, 'Tough luck that you'll have to spend 20 or 30 years paying off today's spending.'

I am happy to look any future generation of Australian children and say to them, 'We stood the test of time; we stood up against the shallow charge of those opposite, who claimed all things to all people to make themselves popular for five minutes, because we took decisions in the national interest to make sure that we safeguarded the future of our children, the future of our nation.' That is what true fairness is. That is what true equity is. True equity is not about stealing or mortgaging future generations; true equity is about living within your means, spending only what you can afford, and, if you introduce a new tax, not introducing a tax that raises one per cent of the forecast revenue but making sensible crucial decisions and as a government taking the mature approach that delivers outcomes.