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Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2288

Dr ALY (Cowan) (15:44): I'm very proud of my community of Cowan. They're a strong community, a resilient community and a community that truly embodies the heart of this great nation. When I go out and speak to the people of Cowan and talk to businesses, individuals, families and working parents, what do you think it is that they say to me? Do you think they say to me that what they want from this government is big tax cuts for foreign multinational businesses and millionaires? Do you think that the people of Cowan tell me that they want to pay more personal income tax in order to fund tax cuts for millionaires? Do the people of Cowan, and indeed the people of Western Australia, say that they want their wages to continue stagnating while watching this out-of-touch government back cuts to weekend penalty rates and give a $65 billion bonus to big business? No, that's not what they're saying. That's not what they want.

This government keeps crowing on about how great it is at financial management. I say to it: tell that to the people of Western Australia, where the former WA Liberal-National government's financial recklessness has just been exposed in a recent report. That report, the Langoulant report, exposes the worst case of financial risk in the granting of billions of dollars of contracts with no business case. Guess who that report implicates? None other than the current federal Attorney-General, who as WA Treasurer in the Barnett government failed to heed warnings of falling GST share, spent at a rate higher than WA's economic growth and increased spending by 10.8 per cent while revenue grew only by six per cent.

It doesn't stop there, because it seems that this federal Treasurer is working from the same playbook when it comes to economic mismanagement. For a start, he can't make up his mind on tax, revenue or spending. He fails to heed the advice of the RBA governor about the danger of funding company tax cuts through higher budget deficits and government debt. He continues to spruik the myth of trickle-down economics, as did the minister in his previous contribution today.

Trickle-down economics has actually never been tested in its purest form, so there is actually no real evidence to support it as an effective way to stimulate growth and jobs—or 'jobs and growth', as those on the other side would say. Former US Presidents Reagan and Bush were renowned for their belief in trickle-down economics, but what happened there? In both cases the exact opposite occurred. In fact, income inequality worsened, and between 1979 and 2005 after-tax household income rose by just six per cent for the bottom fifth. It sounds okay—the bottom fifth got a six per cent rise in their income—until you see what happened for the top fifth. The top fifth's income increased by 80 per cent. The top one per cent actually saw their income triple. So, instead of trickling down, the prosperity trickled up.

This is the road that this government wants us to go down. We have the Prime Minister going and rubbing shoulders with the President of the United States and coming here and saying that this is an economic model for Australia. Well, I don't think Australians want to be Americans. I can only wonder how this government is just so out of touch with everyday Australians that it continues its sole focus on these tax cuts for big business and millionaires.

Australians aren't stupid. They certainly aren't stupid enough to fall for the snake oil con that somehow, just somehow, they're going to be better off when big business gets tax cuts and when millionaires get a tax break. They're smart enough to know that under this government they've seen the real value of their pay packets go backwards, as the cost of living continues to increase while their incomes stagnate and they face job insecurity and underemployment. Australians are smart enough not to trust this government and this Treasurer to deliver a real policy agenda that prioritises their needs for lower energy costs, affordable health insurance, affordable housing and some relief on housing debts.