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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 4036

Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (16:14): The MPI that I speak on today is the urgent need for responsible fiscal management in the upcoming budget to deliver real reforms for working people. We should change the title of this segment from MPI to 'The Comedy Hour', because what we heard from the member for Throsby was absolutely comical. Before coming to this place I was a successful transport operator in Queensland. Prior to that, I was a banker. Being part of the Liberal family on this side of the House, every day I welcome the opportunity to debate the fiscal management of this country and I welcome the opportunity to let Australians hear not the spin that Labor would have you believe but the real facts about how this economy could be run better.

Before I speak about a couple of things I want to pick up one of the points that was made by the member for Chifley about Australia's AAA credit rating. This is interesting for people to get their heads around. Why do we have a AAA credit rating at the moment when we have record debt and enormous deficits? When we were in government, we had money in the bank and no debt. Wouldn't we have been in a stronger position compared to today, when we have a heap of debt and no capacity to repay it? Why do have a better credit rating today than we had then? I will tell you why: Standard and Poor's and Moody's have what are called comparative credit ratings. Australia is compared to the rest of the world. As the major economies around the globe have softened—they have basically gone to hell in a hand basket—that has increased Australia's comparative position. That is why we have a AAA credit rating. I can assure you that the false hypnotic phrases that come from this government in reference to their fiscal management are a joke.

I would also like to bring your attention to the comment made earlier this week by the member for Chifley. He said that Labor will have the fastest fiscal consolidation in four decades. That is all this government can do: talk about what is going to happen; the old 'gunna', 'what we will do'. They cannot talk about their track record, because their track record is pretty ordinary. And I will get to the amount of debt and deficits, because I know that the member for Throsby is interested to know about some of the records that his government has been in charge of: record debt and record deficit.

When it comes to the fastest fiscal consolidation in four decades, I want to break down for you what fiscal consolidation is: it is the capacity for a government to pay back debt. With reference to Labor and its out-of-control spending, one can draw an analogy that their fastest fiscal consolidation—which may happen sometime in the future—is similar to a contestant going on TheBiggest Loser after jamming 50 kilos on in order to rip it off quicker. A fast fiscal consolidation by this Labor government will only be a result of the enormous blow-out in their spending.

Let us talk about the suggestion that they will have the capacity to make these changes or have a surplus down the track. In order to understand whether they have the capacity to forecast such things and whether they have integrity—in order for us to be able to take what they say at face value—we need to go back and have a look at their track record of forecasting. Let us go back just over 12 months to the MYEFO books—and for those people who are here in the gallery, MYEFO stands for Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. These guys should get a copy of it from time to time.

Mr Stephen Jones: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member for Wright should address his comments through the chair.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Wright should address his comments through the chair, because I do not think that I have been doing the things that he is talking about and the use of the word 'you' is not accepted. By now, all new members should be aware of that. The member for Wright has the call.

Mr BUCHHOLZ: I can understand wholeheartedly why the member for Throsby would feel a little ruffled by the comments that he is hearing at the moment. The Labor Party, 12 to 18 months ago, forecast that their budget deficit—the one that is coming up real soon; in a couple of weeks—was going to be $12 billion. These people want us to believe that they have the capacity to forecast. They said that it was going to be $12 billion. Six months later, in the budget figures it was $12.6 billion. That is just a lazy $600 million—they got it wrong by that much.

But that is not all; there are steak knives with this deal as well. In the recent MYEFO documents, that $12.6 billion went to $22 billion. And now it is at $37 billion. That is the capacity of this government, which wants to stand on a stage and talk about fiscal responsibility, to forecast over a period of just over 12 months. They cannot hit the side of a barn when it comes to forecasting deficits.

We have seen in the last parliamentary sitting period three common traits in the bills that have come before the House. Firstly, the majority of the bills that have come before the House somehow end up giving more power to their union mates; secondly, they take money out of the pockets of mums and dads and small businesses, and I will explain to you how they do that; and, thirdly, somewhere woven into the bill is more bureaucracy and more compliance measures—you can bet on that. The Australian Labor Party do not get it. They do not understand the business pressures out there at the moment.

I want to bring your attention to the mining tax and some of the benefits that the Labor Party are boasting about, such as the changes to the company tax rate. I am glad that you are here, Billy. What is your seat?

Mr Shorten: Minister!

Mr BUCHHOLZ: Minister Bill.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Wright.

Mr BUCHHOLZ: I am glad that the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation is in the House to hear these comments. The company tax rate is going to go from 30 per cent to 29 per cent, a one per cent decrease. We have taken a bit of heat over opposing that. I want to share with you why we oppose that. I asked the guys in my office to ring some of the businesses within a couple of kilometres of my office. These are actual figures and I want you to get your head around them. A bloke who has a building supply business has a payroll of $570,000. Last year his taxable income with $40,000. What that means is that he will get a company tax cut of $400 but will potentially be facing a $17,100 increase in his superannuation liability. This government would have you think that they are paying for that superannuation increase. I can assure you that it will be coming out of the pockets of the small businesses and the hardworking mums, dads and families of my electorate of Wright. Then we went around the other corner and found the motor mechanic. He has a payroll of $500,000 and a taxable income of $75,000. What is his benefit? The hand goes into the pocket and he gets his $750, but the potential super liability out of the other pocket is $15,000. Do the maths: over the six-year period that comes to $15,000. You cannot have a three per cent increase and not have it cost anything. It has got to cost something.

Government members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Wright will return to the MPI and stop encouraging misbehaviour in the chamber.

Honourable members interjecting

Mr BUCHHOLZ: I am the junior here! I am getting bashed up! I thought you would be my saviour!

Do not just take my word for it when it comes to the management of the fiscal policy of this nation. You do not have to look any further than this morning's Australian Financial Review. We have the government saying how wonderful their fiscal responsibility is, how diligent their economic management is and what a wonderful state our nation is in. Well, one of the jewels in the crown of Australian retail, David Jones, is mentioned in headlines this morning on the front page of the Australian Financial Review. The headline reads 'DJs in fight for survival'. It says a lot when you get comments like that coming from David Jones, which is a true indicator of the real retail sector in this nation. Mr Paul Zahra, CEO, said:

These are the toughest retail conditions that I've even seen in my career and I've been in retailing for 30 years.

How is it that we have a Labor government insisting that things are just a bed of roses, but some of the biggest retailers are struggling to keep their heads above water. David Jones has forecast a downgrading of profits to the tune of 40 per cent.

This government's capacity to forecast is nothing short of outstanding when you have a look at their capacity back through MYEFO and the budget! Now the government will get up and continue to 'spin, spin, spin', but they have continually failed to forecast the stats— (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The discussion is now concluded.