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Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Page: 1351


Mr HAASE (Durack) (17:43): I rise this evening to speak to appropriation bills Nos 3 and 4 of 2012-13, bills that seek to appropriate $1.7 billion for government departments and agencies. These are additional expenditure requirements which have arisen since the May budget was brought down. This Labor government, the highest spending government in Australian history—in fact they will spend over $90 billion more this year than the last budget of the Howard government—is once again asking for more money. Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2012-13 seeks to appropriate $600.8 million arising from changes in the estimates of program expenditure, variations in the timing of payments, increases in forecasted program takeup and policy decisions taken by the government since the last budget. Appropriation Bill (No. 4) seeks appropriations totalling $666.36 million and includes $32 million in capital funding to expand the immigration detention network. For the layman, this simply means they have wasted the money and want more.

We on this side of the House, we the members of the fiscally responsible party of Australia, the coalition, left Labor with a $20 billion surplus and no net debt. Perhaps if we were watching an American sitcom or a satire on the governing of some Third World country, I would be smiling. I am not smiling and this is not a sitcom, although the past Labor years have certainly had the characters and the plots for a blockbuster Australian sitcom, the title of which may go along the lines of 'Dummy's Guide to Destroying the Country'. This government has created so much chaos in the political sphere that it—the chaos—has become the norm. Perhaps late at night in the corridors of this House, the Labor Party members listen to the Sex Pistols and live by the quotes of Sid Vicious:

Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don’t let them take you alive.

Before anyone asks, I am not a fan of the Sex Pistols, I just like interesting quotations.

Speaking of interesting quotations, on no fewer than 650 occasions did the Prime Minister, Wayne Swan the Treasurer and Penny Wong repeat their promise to deliver a surplus. Yes, 650 times the most senior of the Labor Party spruiked their budget surplus. Then, in the hope that Christmas festivities would detract from the announcement, Mr Swan, our Treasurer—the same Mr Swan who collected the world's best treasurer award—declared there would be no surplus after all. Rather than admit fault and take the blame for the use of wasteful spending and poor fiscal management, our Treasurer chose to blame 'a huge revenue whack…out of the blue.' Out of the blue? What blue is Mr Swan talking of? Is it the dark blue cloud of despair all Australians have been living under since Labor started wasting taxpayers' money. That is the only blue I can think our Treasurer was referencing because no thinking person—especially the world's best treasurer—would have imagined or believed, even in their wildest dreams, that this Labor government would deliver a promise, let alone a surplus. This government has delivered the four biggest budget deficits in history, with a cumulative value of $172 billion—meaning, in effect, that the government has spent $172 billion more than it has earned over this period. History tells us that this government did not have a revenue problem, it just has a revenue forecasting and spending problem. It has consistently assumed unrealistically high levels of future revenue, spent at those levels, and then cried, 'Woe is me,' when the politically inspired forecasts are not realised. The Prime Minister, in an election advertisement in 2010, stated:

Most importantly, I'll ensure the budget is in surplus by 2013.

In 2011, the same Prime Minister said in a speech:

My commitment to a surplus in 2012-13 was a promise made and it will be honoured

And then, in a speech I am sure she would rather forget, the Prime Minister in an address to the McKell Institute in July 2012 said:

We saved jobs, stayed out of recession and got back to surplus.

That was wishful thinking, I would say. This Labor government's own economic benchmark for the past three years has been a surplus in 2012-13. Now we are looking at world's best treasurer delivering his fifth consecutive deficit and Labor's 11th out of its last 11 budgets—surely a track record one would not be proud of.

Every year in office this government has increased its borrowings. The face value of Commonwealth securities on issue has increased from around $60 billion under the last years of the coalition government to over a quarter of a trillion dollars today. Labor has sought to increase the limit on the government's debt ceiling on four separate occasions. In 2008, the limit was amended to $75 billion. This was increased in 2009 to $200 billion. In 2011, the government increased this limit yet again to $250 billion. Finally, in the last budget they increased this limit to a record of $300 million. I am not a mathematician or an economic guru but I, along with the majority of Australians, have common sense; and common sense tells me that if you consistently spend more than you have, you are going to go broke. That is what we on this side of the House have been telling everyone for years. Australia is going broke at a rate of knots under this Labor government. Today's debt is tomorrow's taxes, and we know this government is not shy about introducing new taxes. This Labor government has announced 27 new or increased taxes since coming to power. I imagine you could find a lost tribe buried under the maze of paperwork shuffled around as they rob Peter to pay Paul. As George Bernard Shaw once said:

The government who robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

I suggest that the people of Durack, the largest electorate in Australia, my electorate, are sick of this government robbing them to pay for not only their eastern seaboard mistakes but, in the case of live exports, their international mistakes. I say 'mistakes' kindly—perhaps it is more so a direct act of Greens-hugging treachery.

The profound financial impact on graziers and associated businesses from the government's decision to ban live cattle exports to Indonesia on 7 June 2011 cannot be underestimated. In excess of 9,000 direct jobs are created by the live export trade throughout rural and regional Australia, and for every one direct job created in live export another 1.6 jobs are created in the wider community. Now we hear during Senate estimates that the aid package paid by the Australian government to Indonesia is to increase productivity in the Indonesian cattle industry. It actually exceeded the amount put into the northern Australian cattle industry as compensation for the shocking knee-jerk reaction in 2011 with the live export ban. This city-centric government has allocated $20 million to the Indonesian beef industry to improve its productivity but to date has allocated a mere $12.7 million to the Australian industry. It would appear our taxpayers' money is being used to boost another country's industry to the detriment of our own. It makes no sense to me or my constituents—in fact, little that this government does makes sense.

Where is the sense in unravelling strong and secure border protection policies—policies that worked so well during the Howard years? Already 2013 has seen more people arrive by illegal boats than was seen at the start of any other year on record, with more than 900 people having arrived since 1 January. This follows a record calendar year of boat arrivals in 2012, with 17,270 people landing on our shores. Since 2008, when Labor unravelled the secure border protection policy, and up until the end of 2012, Australia has seen the arrival of 546 illegal boats. Based on the 2011-12 figures, every boat is on average costing the taxpayer $12.8 million; $6.5 billion of taxpayers money has been wasted on trying to fix a problem that did not exist. There is no sense in reinventing the wheel. There never has been and never will be.

This government should admit it is wrong and that the Howard government was right and stop throwing good taxpayer money after bad. This government should be improving hospitals, increasing the educational opportunities for regional students and relieving Australian families of the cost of living burden rather than supporting economic opportunists who arrive on our shores and then knock on doors for more concessions.

Speaking of knocking on doors: people in this country and Durack in particular, in the days before the bungled minerals resource rent tax was introduced, used to have investors knocking on their doors, wanting to invest in the low sovereign risk minerals and resources industries of Australia. Now investors are comparing us with Africa and often deciding that that destination is more secure. Miners are already paying more tax than any other company structure in Australia. They are paying around 46c in the dollar when most companies are paying 30c in the dollar. Miners are paying billions and billions of dollars in royalties to states.

The mining tax, the bad tax, which resulted from a bad process, is complex, costly to administer, inefficient and does not raise any meaningful revenue. Yet the world's best Treasurer—and, Deputy Speaker, I am quite sure you know that I use that descriptive term with tongue firmly in cheek—yes, the Treasurer, Mr Swan, has spent all the money he stated the tax would raise, and more. The government wined and dined voters on money it did not have. Rather than the $2 billion the tax was expected to raise this half, it in fact gave a return of a paltry $126 million.—less than five per cent of the projected income. Considering the company tax forgone, plus the cost of administration, this is an economic blunder of monumental proportions.

It appears to me that this Labor government, rather than encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial Australians and companies, disparages and taxes them. We on this side of the House take a different approach. We like to support those individuals and companies who do well, for who else will finance this government's passive welfare mentality, a mentality that has bred contempt rather than admiration for those who succeed? It seems that across the eastern seaboard the tall poppy syndrome is alive and well. How dare there be rich people in Australia? How dare there be companies who have had a go? It seems that an army of spin doctors—about 1,600 as at 13 August 2012, staff employed by federal departments and agencies in media, communications, marketing and public affairs roles—on which this government spends $150 million a year, are earning their keep.

The following is often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but some say the words are actually those of William Boetcker, a German born Presbyterian clergyman. Deputy Speaker, I will let you be the judge of the origin. I quote:

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot lift the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer.

You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.

You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot establish security on borrowed money.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

I add my own to these words of truth and wisdom: you cannot live in a debt-free Australia with Labor at the helm.

The Prime Minister herself said, 'You can't run this country if you can't manage the budget.' I imagine that the history books, when written, will not favour this dark period in Australian politics, this dark period of debt, untruths and wastefulness. This government is a Clayton's government, living under Clayton's rules, full of Clayton's promises and Clayton's surpluses. It truly is the government you have when you do not have a government.