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Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Page: 1321

Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (15:30): I rise to speak to Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2012-2013 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2012-2013, and to raise my deep concerns about the direction in which this Labor government is taking Australia. As to the increase that is required in terms of the bill, the additional estimates bill seeks appropriation authority from the parliament for the additional expenditure of money for the consolidated fund revenue. It identifies a number of things, but in particular I note $37 million extra for offshore asylum seeker management purposes. It is a border issue that should have been controlled, and is of the making of Labor, that means that $37 million is being extracted—taken away from Australian families who are in need of that money.

In the last five years, this Labor government has taken a strong Australian economy from a $20 billion surplus, no net debt and $70 billion in net assets, to a whopping $147 billion net debt. This government is attempting in this bill to appropriate even more funds. It would seem that there are no bounds to the lengths to which this government will go to fund its addiction to wasteful spending.

It is clear that this Labor government is simply not able to manage our economy. This Labor government made promise after promise after promise that it would deliver a budget surplus this financial year. This government promised over 650 times that it would stick to its commitment to a budget surplus—650 times. It is easy to assume that a government could not forget a promise it had made 650 times. So adamant was this Labor government that it would deliver a budget surplus that we were told that a budget surplus was not negotiable, and people were ridiculed for suggesting that this Labor government would not stick to its promise. But, over the last few months, the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and their friends have been slowly sidestepping away from their promise. The Treasurer has been ducking and weaving, and now he openly speaks as if it was never a serious consideration that the government would deliver a budget surplus. As far as I am concerned, this was as good as an admission that the Treasurer had lost control of Australia's finances. It is clear that the Treasurer simply does not have the skills required to effectively manage the economy and deliver the prized promise of a budget surplus. Over the last four years under this Labor government our nation has seen the four biggest consecutive budget deficits on record. We have seen a cumulative total of $172 billion in budget deficits.

It is simply despicable that the Treasurer believes that it is he who is entitled to spend taxpayers' money without giving any due to consideration to the people of Australia. These budget deficits and the massive debt that we have acquired as a result of them is going to weigh heavily on the shoulders of the next generation of Australians to pay off the debt. This debt will take years and years and years to repay—all because this Prime Minister and this Treasurer could not control their addiction to spending.

This is a shameful legacy to leave behind for our children. This government's ability to waste and mismanage astounds me. Over the life of this government we have seen pink batts, school halls, cash for clunkers, and set-top boxes. There are so many examples of how this government has been wasteful I do not even know where to begin to cover the comprehensive list.

It is also becoming increasingly apparent that the wasteful spending is not the only problem that this government faces. It is becoming increasingly clear that this government not only has a spending problem but that it is completely unable to forecast. As I raised in this place earlier this week, the warning signs about our nation's economy have been clear for all to see—and yet somehow this Treasurer has not seen them. I can only imagine that this Treasurer has put his head in the sand. He has been refusing to listen to the feedback from industry and has been refusing to listen to the advice of the experts. This government, including the Treasurer, has a better grasp on how to deliver spin than how to deliver a budget surplus. We are here today discussing the appropriation of funds because of this Treasurer's inability to balance the books. This government has a $120 billion black hole of unfunded spending promises, and we have debated those in the chamber. He was counting on the mining tax to deliver the funds to cover these costs but now he has realised that his mining tax was a failure and he is looking elsewhere for the money that is required to fund those initiatives, including superannuation and the hit on self-funded retirees that is proposed in their thinking.

There is some good news for the people of Australia: there is a better way. The coalition have a strong track record on balancing the books and paying back the debt. A coalition government would immediately halve this government's wasteful spending and get our economy the fighting chance it needs. Rather than relying on cash grabs, the coalition has well-established, well-planned policies in place to get Australia back on track. The coalition will restore hope, reward and opportunity to all Australians. As was said before, and I will say it again, a coalition government will immediately rescind the carbon tax and we will get rid of the mining tax. Unlike with those opposite, the people of Australia can have faith that these promises would be followed through.

The coalition also has a better plan for education in our country because we believe that education is a cornerstone to the development of skills and knowledge and the ability of Australians to participate in a workforce that is diverse and is becoming more significant in this evolution into a global world and a global economy. Education provides the basis for the skilling that will enable them to be part of an emerging exciting future that provides so many opportunities. We believe that every child needs to have the opportunity of a quality education, and certainly in the chamber we discussed the proposed bill that looks at how the shape and future of education will be in Australia. That also requires the detail of expenditure.

Australia is recognised in the medical research arena. In the past decade alone Australia's health and medical research sector has produced three Nobel Prize winners. We recognise that funding for medical research is the best long-term investment a government can make in the health of Australian people. While the budget conditions are tough and the coalition is committed to returning the budget to surplus, we also recognise that funding of medical research needs to be consistent and ongoing to ensure Australia does not hollow out its capabilities in this field. The coalition has a plan for the health of our nation, and the plan includes the work undertaken by the Health and Ageing Committee, which has looked at the issues and implications of youth suicide, dementia and other elements, including a new inquiry which will look at border protection but also dental health. We will deliver better health services by putting local communities in charge of hospitals and improving cooperation with states and territories. Mental health is important. The coalition will support early psychosis prevention and intervention centres, or EPPICs. We understand that better services to mental health increase the employment opportunities of those suffering from the various mental illnesses.

We believe that our veterans need to be respected for their commitment and service to our nation through the fair indexation of their military superannuation. A coalition government will deliver fair indexation of the DFRDB and the DFRB military superannuation to our veterans.

For small business it is important that we support them. Small businesses are the engine room of our economy. We need to be doing everything we can to build a thriving small business sector. We will establish a dedicated advocate for small businesses in the form of an ombudsman, conduct a root and branch review of competition policy and get government off the back of small business by cutting $1 billion worth of red tape. A coalition government will put the small business minister in the cabinet, improve small business access to Commonwealth contracts, give small businesses a say in taxation and help small business attract and retain workers. We will protect the rights of independent contractors and the self-employed. The coalition will extend the unfair contract protections for small business. We are committed to building stronger small businesses within our community. We understand that our country needs to invest in infrastructure now to prepare for the future. We need a vision for the future and a plan to get there. The coalition will build the infrastructure that we need now to free up our congested road networks. We will build better infrastructure for Australia.

The coalition believes in real action that will have a genuine, long-lasting impact on our environment. We are not interested in just pretending to do something about the environment; we want to make a practical difference. We will support direct action through the coalition's Direct Action Plan in respect of the environment. We will deliver on our commitment to a five per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. We will establish a 15,000 strong green army charged with the clean-up and conservation of our environment. The coalition is committed to building greener local communities in which people can play a significant role in their own local areas.

We will also work to build stronger, safer communities. We will help people feel safe in their homes again. We will help local communities to be the very best they can be, with less crime and more community friendship. We will establish a new national safe streets program and expand the use of CCTV cameras for crime prevention and detection.

The coalition will ease the cost-of-living pressure for all Australians. Our commitment will be to abolish the carbon tax. We will work to keep interest rates low, we will protect and strengthen Medicare and private health-insurance and we will deliver more affordable and flexible child care.

In my electorate and in my local community I know that people are doing it tough. Many people are struggling with the daily grind to pay their bills and I know the cost of living is a significant concern. Our commitment to communities is important—to encourage the fabric of communities which know that their daily living is guaranteed and that the coalition has a better way. The coalition will restore hope for communities and families. We will reward those who seek and take up opportunities that enable them to be part of the workforce or to personally invest in small business for the betterment of all Australians.

I will continue to fight for what my community is concerned about. I will help build stronger communities that contribute to the economy not only of Western Australia but of all Australia, the community in which we all live.

It is important that we live within our means and that the budgets we allocate through the appropriations process are targeted to ease the pressure on Australian families. I acknowledge the need for particular initiatives in the security areas of this country, but our fundamental focus and the commitment I give is to the families who live in my electorate, to the communities that make up the electorate of Hasluck and certainly to the communities that make up Western Australia and this nation.