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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3536

Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (16:17): I rise to speak on this matter of public importance today because I hold great concern for the people of Macarthur, who are struggling to make ends meet. I am concerned, but not surprised, that this week's budget has failed to address the cost-of-living pressures on all Australians. Since elected, this Labor government has done nothing to ease cost-of-living pressures for families in my electorate and around the nation. Since 2007 the cost of electricity has increased by 93.8 per cent, the cost of water and sewerage by 63.1 per cent, the cost of gas by 61.8 per cent, the cost of medical and health services by 40.9 per cent, and the cost of rents by 30.2 per cent—certainly not a track record the government would be proud of.

The rising cost of living has had a huge impact on the quality of life of many families in Macarthur. To put it simply: they have had enough. The people of Macarthur are hardworking, honest people who want nothing but the best for their children and the future generations of this country. More than 70 per cent of the workers in my electorate commute out of the area to work every day so they can earn a decent wage and compete with the rising cost of living. They are working hard to pay off their mortgage and balance the family budget. They are trying to decrease their own debt and reduce their credit limits. So you can imagine how frustrating it would be for them to see their own government's wasteful spending result in almost $300 billion of debt, reaching national debt record interest payments of $7.8 billion per year. That is almost $50 million per day in borrowings. The government does not have a revenue problem; it definitely has a spending problem.

Recently thousands of people across Macarthur raised with me, through Macarthur's biggest survey, their concerns about the rising cost of living. More than 90 per cent of our residents who took part in the survey said the cost of living was too high. Many families in my electorate are struggling to make ends meet. I recently met a lovely family in Rosemeadow, who said the rising cost of living means that their children are missing out on some of the things that they once took for granted. Mum and Dad are both working. One income covers the mortgage and the other income barely covers the electricity bills, water bills, grocery bills and council rates—all of which have gone up thanks to this Labor government's record debt and toxic carbon tax. This means there is no money left for the children in this family to take part in after-school activities or sports teams with their friends. There is simply not enough money left in the family budget. Since when did joining a local sports team become a luxury expense? These parents want nothing more than the best for their children but said that there are times when they wonder if working hard to pay off a mortgage and refusing to depend on government handouts is the right thing to do. They want their children to have a bright future but are struggling to stay on top of the bills and keep food on the table because of the rising cost of living.

It is obvious to me that, since this Labor government began its wasteful spending, new taxes and broken promises, the quality of life of many people in my electorate has diminished. Labor's carbon tax only adds insult to injury for household budgets that are already under pressure. The carbon tax was met with great contempt by the people of Macarthur. The increased cost for small businesses and the rise in electricity prices for local residents mean they are struggling to make ends meet. I have shaken the freezing-cold hands of pensioners in their homes, where they are too scared to turn on their heaters because of their fear of rising electricity prices. One lady told me she has cut back to eating one meal a day and showering every second day because she is fearful of her rising electricity bills—fear, insecurity and instability all caused by this reckless government. The message I am hearing in Macarthur is very clear: families and small businesses are desperate for a government they can have confidence in . Families are struggling with the rising cost of living, and businesses are closing down under the uncertainty of this Labor government. The two most frequent issues raised with me by residents in Macarthur have been the rising cost of living and this government's debt. The decent, hardworking people in my electorate are really doing it tough, and the government is not paying attention.

Ms Hall interjecting

Mr MATHESON: It is a bit like the member for Shortland: the lights are on, but nobody's home. She also interjects all the time.

Not only are they struggling with the cost-of-living pressures, but they also see no relief in this week's budget from a government that has lost touch with everyday Australians. On Tuesday night Macarthur residents were let down by another bad budget. Labor have delivered a fifth record deficit in five years, yet they claim they will return the budget to surplus in three years. How can you trust them? The people of Macarthur and the people of Australia are not easily fooled. They have been let down too many times before and see that this Labor government have no credible path back to surplus. Revenue in 2013-14 is projected to be $80 billion higher than at the end of the Howard government. Yet with this budget spending in 2013-14 will be $120 billion higher than it was at the end of the Howard government.

Over the past five years the government has spent $192 billion more than it has raised. Expenditure as a percentage of GDP has been higher every year under a Labor government compared with the last years of the Howard government. Labor's interest payments are now at almost $20 million a day. The budget delivers more than $25 billion in higher taxes over the next four years. To rub salt into the wounds of all Australians, this budget includes an extra $100 million in spending on government advertising. How can this government justify the $100 million on advertising when pensioners in my electorate cannot afford to heat their homes or have a shower every day?

This week's budget has certainly failed to address the rising cost of living. In fact, it has only made it worse. Families will be worse off with the government's announcement to extend the pause on the income thresholds for family payments and the family tax benefit supplement payments until 2017. This decision will impact upon 1.5 million families who receive family tax benefit part A and 1.3 million families who received family tax benefit part B, as these supplement payments fail to keep pace with the rising cost of living. The Labor government's decision to scrap these planned family tax benefits will impact upon 12,261 families in Macarthur. This benefit would have provided up to $300 to eligible families with one child and up to $600 for families with two or more children. What happened to the government's promise to spread the benefits of the boom? It is just another broken promise and other let down for the people of Macarthur.

Labor also made promises on company tax for businesses at the last election and then took them away last year, saying the money would go towards family payments instead. Now those family payments have been taken away before they were meant to start. Families across the country are literally paying the price of this government's reckless spending and waste.

I can tell you now that more than 12,000 Macarthur families have taken a clear message away from this decision: Labor cannot be trusted to keep its promises nor honour its word. Labor promised no carbon tax, a budget surplus, 500,000 new jobs and increased family payments. Every one of these promises has been broken. The people of Macarthur deserve a government that sticks to its word. They deserve a government that will focus on sensible economic management, with a strong plan to pay back the debt and return to balanced budgets. Labor's latest attacks on family support payments and household budgets have come at a time when families can least afford it.

Macarthur families will also suffer as a result of this budget's broken promise on child care. At a time when childcare costs are increasing, Labor has broken its promise that the indexation of the childcare rebate would recommence in 2014. Another broken promise. The increase to the Medicare levy will also mean that the average Australian family earning $70,000 will be $350 a year worse off.

Record debt and rising costs of living for Australian families are also the result of a long list of incompetent polices that this government has blundered in its short time in office: the border protection fiasco, pink batts, set-top boxes and the BER school halls debacle. They raised 'cash for clunkers' and dropped it like a hot potato. Then there is the carbon tax promise. All of these failed policies have come at a huge cost to taxpayers across Australia and have contributed to the massive debt we find ourselves in.

It is not just families and businesses that are struggling with the rising cost of living. Charities in my electorate are also feeling the pinch. Charities and not-for-profit agencies have to spend much of their hard-earned money on rising bills rather than on those doing it tough in the community. In this country we now have an urgent need for a government that is focused on the needs of all Australians.

I stand here today as a proud member of the coalition, because I know that a stable and secure coalition government will help the people of Macarthur. The first thing we will do is get rid of the carbon tax. We will reduce regulation by $1 billion. We will cut back on government waste and mismanagement. We will introduce new economic policies that will ensure a stable and well-run economy. The coalition has the experience and the discipline to return a budget to sustainable surpluses, reduce debt and provide real support for Macarthur families to help them get ahead again. A coalition government would give businesses in Macarthur the certainty they need to prosper. We will create stronger jobs growth by building a diverse, world-class, five-pillar economy and we will generate one million new jobs over the next five years.

My hope for the sake of my children and future grandchildren is that this country will never again be in the financial mess that it is in now. The people of Australia and the people of Macarthur deserve better. They deserve a government that will reduce the cost of living by bringing the budget to sustainable surpluses and reducing the debt. They deserve the right to be excited about the future of our country and the future of their families. After six years of chaos, debt and spin the people of Macarthur are desperately seeking stable and competent economic management. A coalition government will build a strong, prosperous economy, a safe and secure Australia and restore the hope, rewards and opportunity that the people of Macarthur deserve.

Discussion concluded.