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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 159

Mr COLEMAN (Banks) (16:01): Thank you very much, Deputy Speaker Coulton, and I congratulate you on your election to your office. It is tremendous to have the opportunity to speak on this MPI, which allows for a very clear contrast between the clear, focused economic agenda of this government and the extraordinary lack of an economic agenda of those opposite. As was observed in the last election campaign, what the opposition said about an economic plan for the nation was precisely zero. There were a whole lot of things said about how to tax more, there were a range of things about how to spend more and there were a range of things about how to redistribute income, but there was no economic plan for the nation. That is a major problem, because ultimately our capacity in this place to do the things that we want to do for the nation, to help the nation to grow, ultimately hinge on the driver of the of the economy—economic growth. It is the engine that drives us forward. All of the wonderful intentions and great ideas about what people might like to do become virtually impossible to implement without the engine moving forward, and that ultimately is what government is about.

What we see opposite are stunts, sideshows and theatrics, but government is not a carnival attraction. Government is a serious business of doing the business of the people and ensuring that the economy moves forward. One of the most important ways to ensure that we have the capacity to move forward is ensuring that we do not spend more money than we take in. If we as a nation continue to spend more in the medium term than we take in we will suffer very serious long-term economic consequences. Some may wave that away and say there are some nations that have more debt than us, and that is true, but the vast majority of those nations are in a very poor overall economic position, and we must never, ever let ourselves go there. That is what the Prime Minister and this government are committed to—living within our means, tackling the deficit and focusing on the growth of the economy.

You do not grow the economy by doing what those opposite want to do, which is smash the economy with taxes. You don't say, 'Let's put more tax on the people who are investing in the economy,' and increase capital gains tax. You don't say, 'Let's go and punish people who are investing in property and contributing to so much activity in the property sector,' and get rid of negative gearing, which has existed for just 100 years or so. You don't do that if you want to drive the economy. You don't increase tax and the tax burden on the community.

If you want to get the economy moving you make sure that sectors like construction can get to work and get the job done. At the moment, as we know, the issues in the union sector are constricting the construction sector and holding back economic growth. That is a very large part of our GDP, with more than one million Australians employed in the sector. That is why this government is committed to the ABCC bill and the registered organisations bill, to get those sectors moving again and to take out the malfeasance and bad behaviour that we see in that sector. It is also why it is so important to support the start-up sector and the innovation sector. We talked a lot about this prior to the election. This government is committed to making it more attractive for people to invest in start-up companies through the changes to tax arrangements on capital gains tax and income tax for people who invest in start-ups. We actually care about the growth of the economy. Our primary lens, through which we look at problems, is how we make the economy stronger, because when you make the economy stronger all Australians benefit. Those opposite look at the economy and ask how they redistribute what happens to exist, but they do not actually look at it and say, 'How do we make it bigger, better and stronger?' What was their economic plan at the last election? They had no economic plan. Remarkably, they said, 'We will bank the superannuation savings of the government,' without telling us what their superannuation policy is. It is quite extraordinary and will be remembered for years to come. It is a very poor reflection on the shadow Treasurer, as the member for Deakin so eloquently said moments ago. This is a government with a strong economic agenda. Economic growth is central to everything we do and those opposite have absolutely no economic plan.