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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 1076


Mr CIOBO (Moncrieff) (21:24): In this evening's grievance debate I would like to touch upon an issue that I believe is of some importance across the Australian economy. Predominantly, it is the complete inability of the Gillard Labor government to recognise the very distinct challenges the Australian economy faces—in particular, something that is often referred to in economic literature as Dutch disease.

Before I delve into that, I would like to touch upon some of the comments that were just made by the member for Canberra. In many ways the speech by the member for Canberra epitomises just what is wrong with the Australian Labor Party. In many ways the member's contribution to the House tonight underscores a defining philosophy of the Australian Labor Party that represents the very worst of government and completely erodes the incentive that exists across the Australian economy for people to allocate wealth, debt and equity to the creation of further wealth and jobs in this country.

It was extraordinary for me, representing the Gold Coast as I do and representing a services based city, to hear the member for Canberra wax lyrical about the 'devastation'—I believe that was her word—of Canberra and about how Canberra under the Howard government faced a recession and how house prices in Canberra were off. She said she would attend farewell lunches where there would be eight, nine, 10 or 12 people who had lost their jobs. It is extraordinary to come into this chamber and hear adjectives like 'devastation' used in relation to Canberra at a time when house prices in my electorate are off by 40, 50 or 60 per cent. Those sorts of falls would be completely unheard of in the Canberra property market. The word 'devastation' is used with respect to a price reduction of maybe 10 per cent in Canberra.

There is a sense of entitlement that really is epitomised by the member for Canberra—a sense of tenure of employment in the Public Service—that the private sector could only dream of. I believe it underscores the approach of the Labor Party that we hear members opposite talk about how it is a 'great time to be in Canberra' because there are cranes on the horizon and there is so much business activity going on. And the people who drive this are those who put their livelihoods on the line. The people who pay the taxes that drive the largesse of this government are the people whose residential mortgages back the businesses they have to walk away from. The people who drive this so-called investment are people who, from the sweat of their brow, take risks day in and day out in electorates like mine and others across the country so that members for Canberra can say: 'This is a great time to be in Canberra and be in the Public Service. We've never seen so much government spending. It's a fabulous time to be involved.'

I say to the member for Canberra and to the Labor government: you need to get real. You need to recognise what this government's policies are doing out there in the broader population and the impact they are having not only on house prices but also on the ability of businesses to have access to credit, and the livelihood of people. In my electorate, a city that is built on the tourism industry and the construction industry, you do not need to walk very far to see the direct impact that this government's policies are having. You do not need to walk far from my electorate office to see commercial tenancy after commercial tenancy with for-lease and vacancy signs in their windows. That is the price they pay for this government's largesse.

When I hear the member for Canberra talk about her pride and her swelling bosom at going to school classrooms and seeing the kids' faces in response to the rollout of the $16 billion Investing in Our Schools Program, I always ask the same question that I have put when I have turned up to the opening of a new school hall at a school in my electorate. I look down at the faces of young Australian kids who will be paying off that debt for the next 30 years. I look down at those kids and I say, 'I cannot justify that this government believes it is acceptable to mortgage their futures for the next 30 years when we as a government spent 12 years paying off Labor's debt.' For 12 years we made the hard decisions to pay off the debt so that Aussie kids' futures would not be mortgaged. This government, in the course of three years, blows the hard work of 12 years of the Howard government. That is the legacy of the Labor Party. That is the legacy of a government that spends like there is no tomorrow. Do you know why? Because tomorrow is financed by the work of Aussie kids today. They will be paying off those very averagely built, very low-spec school halls that are littering this country—some $16 billion worth. They will be paying off those school halls for the next 30 or 40 years. Young Australians can look at Julia Gillard and go, 'Oh, thank you, Julia Gillard—we've got four decades of higher taxes.' We have got a mining industry that is going to be paying among the highest rates of tax in the world. We have got a carbon tax imposed on our economy that is making us less competitive. Why? Because it is going to reduce global emissions from Australia by 0.05 per cent.

The lunacy of the Labor Party is extraordinary. It is a party filled with people that are idealistic to such an extent they lose sight of the real world. They really have no idea about what it actually means to drive an economy by encouraging and incentivising people. They do not understand what it means to be a small business man or woman who, thanks to this government's policies, is now paying 13 per cent or 14 per cent on an overdraft facility for their small business—one that is secured against a residential mortgage because banks will not lend to small businesses; they will only lend against their residential bricks and mortar. This government has now concentrated lending among the four major banks to the extent that approximately 90 per cent of new loans are written by those four banks. That is a direct consequence of this government's policies; there is no other reason. It has nothing to do with the GFC. It is a direct consequence of Labor's policies. Residential backed securities for small businesses are charging 12, 13 or 14 per cent. That is what ordinary Australians are dealing with at a time when the member for Canberra is saying how wonderful things are in this city—how wonderful it is because the government is borrowing $100 million a day to fuel its debt habit. I cannot express enough my disappointment in this government. I cannot express the pain that Australians—

Mr Perrett: Sit down then.

Mr CIOBO: No, I cannot express enough, Member for Moreton—give me another 20 minutes and I will be able to get close. The reality is that this is a government that is looking only at the time horizon of the next federal election. This is a government with no consideration for the future. We have a Prime Minister who will wring her hands and say how concerned she is about the jobs of Australian workers and, in particular, she will say how concerned she is about the jobs of Australian manufacturing workers. Where is the concern for the tens of thousands of people in Australia's tourism industry who have lost their jobs? Where is the concern for the tens of thousands of Australians in the retail sector who have lost their jobs? Where is the concern for the tens of thousands of Australians who are employed in the services sector who have lost their jobs? We never hear them mentioned. We do not hear the Treasurer talk about them.

Sure, we hear the Treasurer and the Prime Minister talk about the car industry. And why is that? The answer is very obvious. It is because the car industry is heavily unionised, and those opposite rely on the patronage of the union movement to get them into office. It is the unions that feed them and that is why, when the unions say, 'Jump,' they say, 'How high?' But you know what? The workers in the tourism industry and the retail industry, those people who have casual jobs, are not unionised. They are struggling to make ends meet and they do not even get a look in. When those opposite actually start to give a damn about those workers in the service sector that do the jobs and generate the wealth for the majority for the Australian economy, then they will be concerned.

I only have a short period of time to touch on the claim that it is the coalition trying to cut the wages for these workers. How often do we hear talk about penalty rates?

Mr Perrett: You want to cut their penalty rates.

Mr CIOBO: Let me explain to the member for Moreton what your penalty rate changes do. There is a cafe just up the road from me. It used to be open six days a week. Labor brought in their you-beaut penalty rates and promised the workers more money for working longer hours. Do you know what the consequence is? It is now open five days a week. The workers no longer have employment on Saturday, as they used to have, because it is simply too expensive to open and the cafe shuts. That is the great con of the Australian Labor Party. They stand condemned for their poor economic stewardship.