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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4365

Mr HILL (Bruce) (16:03): It's always a pleasure to follow the department of sanctimonious reasonableness. I start with a confession: I'm pleased that the shadow Treasurer is not in the chamber, because I failed to stand up in support of the discussion for this topic, although I was listed as a speaker, because I do have a problem with the proposal—and that is that it presupposes the fact that there is a plan. There's no real evidence that there is a plan. Indeed, a plan, as commonly understood, would be a list of steps with details, timing and resources to achieve an objective. Saying 'Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan—plan, plan,' however reasonably, does not make it a plan. Indeed, to quote the Prime Minister in question time, saying it over and over again does not turn a lie into a fact. Saying it's better, fairer, simpler doesn't make it true. It must be a secret, cunning plan.

To be fair, there is a one-point plan we have spoken of and seen: the $80 billion tax cut for big business. That is the start of the plan. There was jobs and growth, which was not actually a plan; it was a slogan and a website and that lovely yellow and blue logo that appeared behind the Prime Minister. Jobs and growth—we don't hear much about that any more. 'We have a plan,' they say, the $80 billion tax cut plan, including $17 billion for his mates at the big banks. As the member for Herbert said, something's trickling down on Townsville. I'd raise you one and say something's trickling out of the Prime Minister's trousers—a little bit of cash from his wallet for the rest of the country.

The other aspect of the plan we hear about is the trade deals to open market access. In a desperate rush since being elected, for any passing trade they can get, they will just sign any trade deal with no independent scrutiny. All of them, to a tee, let more temporary workers into this country. That's their economic plan, apparently—a secret, cunning plan. We've heard about the secret deal with Senator Hanson, who is now writing their economic policy. Maybe that is the key to the mystery of the secret $3 billion of revenue to be revealed in the budget. They still haven't told us. Whatever the economic plan, it's not really going very well.

The government has been desperately spruiking the jobs figures. We keep hearing this figure cobbled together that since they got elected A plus B plus C equals a million jobs. There's an inconvenient fact, isn't there? Only last week, unemployment went up. The unemployment rate in the country went up to 5.6 per cent. There are 741,000 unemployed Australians, which is 46,300 more than when they came to office. That's not going very well. There are 1.1 million underemployed Australians who want more work. Inconvenient fact: the level of employment increase over the last five years is actually comparable to when Labor was in office from 2007 to 2013, during the global financial crisis.

Even if we take them at face value and say, 'Okay, we've had jobs', let's send a thank you note to Daniel Andrews. I'm sure he checks his letterbox every day. In the last two years to April, over one-third of total employment growth in the country was in Victoria, which has three per cent of the land mass, 25 per cent of the population and over a third of the jobs. When we have a look at permanent full-time jobs nationwide, the most recent two-year statistics show that 65.4 per cent of permanent full-time jobs in Australia were created in Victoria. Obviously, cutting wages through slashing penalty rates must be a secret, cunning part of the plan that we're not smart enough to understand.

We hear a lot from those opposite about their tax plans. That's part of the economic plan, but you have to wonder which one. Was it the raise the GST plan or the plan to expand the GST base and whack it on health and education? Maybe that's part of the cunning plan. My personal favourite is, 'Let's reintroduce state income taxes.' We got rid of them in 1942, it's about time they came back. It's a cunning plan. Or the latest tax plan, 'Let's give away $140 billion with no information to the parliament in a seven-year grandiose vision.' Surprise, surprise, overwhelmingly, yet again, the biggest benefit goes to high-income earners. Maybe that's part of the plan.

What are the fiscal outcomes of all these brilliant, secret, cunning economic plans? Net debt for the coming year is double what it was when they came to office. Gross debt is over half a trillion dollars for the first time in the country's history, and will remain so every year for the next decade. The government's secret economic plan does not even get the surplus to one per cent of the GDP until the end of the decade. Obviously, preparing the nation's future— (Time expired)