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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4458


Mr DICK (Oxley) (12:00): I'm not surprised that members of the LNP from Queensland have been thrown under the bus by this government, because this is the party, for Queenslanders, that has a reputation for cutting, sacking or selling. You only need to look at the recent disgraceful comments, which I want to place on the record at the beginning of my remarks, about a tragedy that occurred in Brisbane yesterday. A very sad event happened when a mother was hit by a bus in the CBD. I extend my condolences to that poor family, but I want to place on record just how out of touch and offensive the former LNP Premier Campbell Newman is. At this time of tragic loss for a family, the loss of their mother, when the first responders came onto the scene the former LNP Premier decided it was more important to complain about traffic congestion—to issue tweets attacking the police and saying they do not do enough to ease congestion. I think those remarks stand on their own. I extend my deepest condolences to that family, and also place on record in the parliament my thanks and recognition for those dedicated first responders who were on the scene, the brave men and women of the Queensland Police Service and the ambulance and fire services. They risk their lives and do everything they can to keep us safe. They deserve our respect and support; they certainly deserve much more than the former LNP Premier criticising them and not showing compassion.

But the time for excuses is over. The time for shifting blame is over and the time for underdelivering for the Australian people is over. There is nowhere that this government can hide with the budget. They've had five years. For five years the Australian people have had to put up with this poor excuse of a government. For five years they've been kept waiting for this government to deliver. But, year after year, we get nothing but cuts and chaos from the government.

Put simply, this budget fails the fairness test. It fails the family test, it fails the infrastructure test, it fails the health and hospitals test and it fails the education test. Perhaps the only area where the budget delivers is for the Prime Minister's and this government's big mates at the top end of town. We know that in this budget the centrepiece, the signature piece, is an $80 billion tax handout to big business, including, as we keep hearing in the community time and time again, this government's priority of delivering $17 billion in tax breaks for the big banks. How on earth could any member of the government get up on their feet and defend that? How could any person in the parliament think that with the banks—with the royal commission, the rorting and the rip-offs that we're seeing— it's somehow a good economic policy to deliver a tax break to the same people who are seen time and time again ripping off mainstream, ordinary Australians.

While the government continues to defend, support and look after the top end of town, Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition, and members of the opposition will continue to fight in this place every single day to bring fairness and opportunity to hardworking Australians. I note the members in this chamber now are getting upset at what I'm saying. They're not happy I'm pointing out the fact that their special interest mates, their millionaires and billionaires, are their priority. I know that's who they want to look after, and that's fine. Many Australians are waking up to that: 31 Newspolls in a row show that. We understand that. They don't like the fact that we hold them to account.

A government member interjecting

Mr DICK: Oh, we've just heard, 'The tide is turning.' Let me guess: the Prime Minister's got his mojo back; the Treasurer's got his mojo back. Every second week: 'We've got the mojo back'—we hear that time and time again. We heard that the Batman by-election was the test. We heard that the budget was the test. But do you know what? Time and time again we're seeing the government not understanding what Middle Australia needs.

The coalition government has done nothing over the past five years other than axe funding and support for seniors, pensioners, those who are vulnerable in my community. It's a long rap sheet. And many of the cuts in this budget still hang around the 2014 horror budget. We know that they tried to cut pension indexation—a cut that would have meant pensioners would be forced to live on $80 a week less within 10 years. That unfair cut would have ripped out $23 billion from the pockets of pensioners—from every single pensioner in Australia. We know that they axed the $900 seniors supplement to self-funded retirees receiving the Commonwealth seniors health card and that they tried to reset deeming rate thresholds—a cut that would've affected 500,000 part pensioners. We know that in 2015 the Liberals did a shonky deal with the Greens to cut the pension to around 370,000 pensioners by as much as $12,000 a year by changing the pension assets test. And in 2016 the government tried to cut the pension to around 190,000 pensioners as a plan to limit overseas travel for pensioners to six weeks. Further to this, the government still wants to make pensioners born overseas wait longer to get the age pension, by increasing the residency requirements from 10 to 15 years.

Legislation has been before the House for the past four years to increase the pension age to 70, meaning that Australia would have an older pension age than the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand. This would mean that, for the first four years alone, around 375,000 Australians would have to wait longer before they could access the pension—a $3.6 billion hit to the retirement income of Australians. And, of course, the government is still trying to axe the energy supplement to two million Australians, including around 400,000 age pensioners—a cut of $14.10 per fortnight to single pensioners, worth $365 a year, and a cut of $21.20 a fortnight to couple pensioners, making them around $550 a year worse off. I know that, if you're living in a $50 million Point Piper mansion, clinking glasses of champagne on Sydney Harbour, that's not a lot of money to you. That's a round of drinks—it's less than a glass of Cristal for the Prime Minister. But what this also means is that, for pensioners—

Government members interjecting

Mr DICK: That's right, and the members of the government are defending the cut, time and time again. Whenever we talk about a fair go for pensioners—

Government members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Vamvakinou ): I am having difficulty hearing the member for Oxley. Order, please.

Mr DICK: adequate services for pensioners, a decent retirement or income for pensioners, the government go berserk, because their priority is always those millionaires and billionaires. We get it. We understand that's the priority for the member for La Trobe and the member for Fisher, who are in the chamber. That's their top priority. They're proud of it; they stand by it—that's the centrepiece of their budget.

The centrepiece of the Leader of the Opposition's budget is delivering fairness and opportunity for middle Australians, giving 10 million Australians a fair dinkum tax cut—doubling what the government has on offer— delivering real tax reform for middle working Australians. They laugh at that. They think it's funny that workers have not had a real pay increase, that inequality is at a 75-year high. The government laugh at it. They think it's all a joke. Well, come and talk to the people in my community, in Redbank Plains, in Goodna, in Gailes, in Camira. Laugh at them—those families that are struggling to make ends meet, to get their kids to school, to get the shiftwork, to get the pay increases. They're the families in my community that don't want millionaires and billionaires and banks and multinationals getting a tax break. They're the families who just want a fair go for them and their kids. This is another central piece of this government, no matter how those opposite or the Treasurer wants to dress it up: this government, when it comes to debt and debt management, is a failure. Since coming to power, net debt has doubled to more than $350 billion.

A government member: Who started that debt?

Mr DICK: We've just had an interjection from a member of the government, saying, 'Who started the debt?' That's the interjection from the government. It's not about how we're going to fix the debt and not about how we're going to lower the debt. We now have a government so intent on this that they have given up on debt management. They have completely given up.

Let's put the facts on the table. Gross debt crashed through half a trillion dollars on the LNP's watch for the first time in history. They're remaining pretty silent now as I give that fact. We know that will remain well above half a trillion dollars. Those opposite are proud of it. They are absolutely proud of it. After five years and six budgets being delivered, they are proud. They're proud that our debt is the highest it's ever been in this country. Look, I know they don't like it. I know it's painful. When the facts are placed on the table, they squeal and they yell. The community across Australia is demanding better management of our economy than we're getting from this Treasurer. It's not often that I would say this, but I would say bring back Joe Hockey. That's what I would say. That's how bad this Treasurer is.

This year's deficit, in 2017-18, is six and a half times bigger than what the members of the government predicted in their first horrific budget of 2014. All of this was confirmed through a recent OECD report, which stated that the Australian government has added more to their debt over the past five years than almost any other developed country. The biggest problem overall is that the government has nothing to show for it. A mountain of debt has been delivered under the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. That's a huge amount of debt that Australians have to pay back under this government's watch, but they have nothing to show for it. There has been no global financial crisis for this government to deal with. Actually, rather than a GFC, they've had global economic conditions that have been improving, yet they have nothing to show for this enormous blowout in debt.

However, for some unknown reason, the days of talking about the budget emergency and the debt truck are never to be seen again. Where's the debt truck? That's parked at the back of someone's house at the moment. The wheels have fallen off. That's never to be seen again. They don't like it when we talk about that. Under Labor, it was a budget deficit emergency—I think that was their slogan. But when the debt is tripling under this government, they are remaining silent—nothing to be seen or heard here. We know that these cuts are as a result of their reckless mismanagement of the economy. In my own home state, we've seen a real cut to hospital funding. In hospitals right across Queensland, particularly in the Caboolture Hospital, we have seen cruel and savage cuts by this government. The government are not interested in the outer suburbs of our community. They're certainly not interested in the south west of Brisbane.

Thank goodness, we have Susan Lamb in Longman fighting for a decent health system for her community. In the south west of Brisbane, we have terrific candidates. We have Corinne Mulholland, who will be our new voice for the people of Petrie, and Ali France in Dickson. We have a whole range of strong advocates, rather than the do-nothing MPs who we see across the city of Brisbane. We know that the LNP, when it comes to infrastructure, really is trying to pull a swiftie on the people of Australia and particularly the people of Queensland. There is no funding for the Cross River Rail—zilch, zero. The Cross River Rail is the No. 1 infrastructure project in the country, which will mean families getting home with real time savings. This government is not interested in that at all.

So, this budget is one of lost opportunities. We know that it still contains the horrific cuts we have seen time and time again from this government—a real cut for hospitals in Queensland, schools across Brisbane and the wider metro region are facing some of the biggest cuts they have seen from any Commonwealth government, and no real funding for infrastructure for my state. I'm disappointed that this government has failed to deliver for my community and the wider community in Queensland. I will keep fighting to make sure that they have equity and fairness in a future Labor budget.