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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 7941


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:28): So we have that tirade from the Leader of the Opposition—the man who, as a union leader, sold out his members again and again. He was prepared to exchange penalty rates for cleaners in return for a secret deal with the employer, with money going back to the union. This is a great leader, we're told! He wants to be Prime Minister. He voted against making payments between large companies and unions transparent. Can you believe that! He's actually in favour of secret and corrupting payments. He didn't want them to be banned. He didn't want the public to know, the members of unions to know, about it—one deal after another, behind the backs of the men and women he was supposed to represent.

Right through this parliament, we have been able, despite his negativity, to deliver one great economic step in advancing the interests of hardworking Australian families. The Leader of the Opposition doesn't seem to care that last year we had the largest jobs growth in Australia's history, the largest jobs growth in any single year, over 400,000 jobs. And we have economic growth which is now faster, higher, than any of the G7 economies. Economic management is a key priority for governments. There you are. Highest jobs growth, high economic growth and employment. We now have unemployment at its lowest level since November 2012. We want to see it lower and we want to see wages growth higher, but what we are doing is delivering stronger economic growth, more jobs and lower unemployment. What that will deliver, as the Reserve Bank was saying only today, is higher wages, and we are starting to see that movement in higher wages. It all comes from a stronger economy. That, we've been able to do at the same time as we have reduced taxes for Australians, Australian families.

We've introduced and passed through the House—with a one-seat majority, he reminds me of regularly—and through the Senate, where we are in a minority, the largest personal income tax reform in 20 years. So hardworking Australian families, middle-income taxpayers, are getting $530 back each during this current financial year.

Mr Snowdon interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Lingiari is warned!

Mr TURNBULL: By 2024 we will see 94 per cent of Australians paying no more than 32½ cents on any extra dollar they earn. We also have succeeded, and this is a vital priority, in being able to bring down youth unemployment to its lowest level since April 2012. More than 57,000 young Australians found a job in the 12 months to July this year. That is, again, a reminder of what a strong economy does. You get more economic growth, more investment and more jobs. And the female participation rate is at record levels.

We hear from the Leader of the Opposition his complaints about economic management. Stronger economic growth than any of the G7 economies, record jobs growth, the lowest unemployment rate since 2012, the lowest youth unemployment rate since 2012 and the highest female participation rate—that is what you get from a strong economy, and that is what we're delivering. We have delivered lower taxes for small and medium Australian businesses. These are overwhelmingly family-owned businesses, and these are businesses turning over less than $50 million a year, which employ over half the private sector workforce. These are not big companies. These are not giant multinationals. But they're employing millions of Australians and they are employing more of them because of our reforms.

The honourable member refers to energy. Let's be quite clear about this. The Labor Party's policies on energy are a repeat of policies that have failed. They want to have a 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target when we know the Renewable Energy Target was a mistake. It is widely recognised as such, called out by the ACCC. What it did was displace dispatchable power and resulted in huge amounts of renewable power, regardless of what it did to the reliability of the system. And the member for Port Adelaide knows all about that because he comes from South Australia, where energy is at its most expensive and its least reliable.

What we're committed to doing is delivering cheaper power. Prices fell in the June quarter 1.3 per cent, not a huge fall but they're coming down. And we've seen lower prices quoted by retailers for the current quarter. The new default market offer that we are going to establish, based on the recommendation from the ACCC inquiry which we initiated, will result in substantial savings for consumers and for businesses—for consumers, up to $416 a year and for small businesses, $1,457 a year.

Ms Butler interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Griffith will leave under 94(a).

The member for Griffith then left the chamber.

Mr TURNBULL: The honourable member talked about funding for health and hospitals. We are spending record amounts in every area of health—health, hospitals, Medicare, PBS. When new life-saving drugs are recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, we list them. We don't have to do as Labor did; they postponed their listing because they couldn't afford it. A stronger economy enables you to do all that. We have increased bulk-billing rates. They're now at record levels: 86.1 per cent of all GP services are bulk-billed. Labor wants to repeat the 'Mediscare' lies that they ran at the last election and at every by-election, but the reality is that every public hospital in Australia is receiving more funding under our government than it did under Labor.

In terms of schools, again, the Labor lies are rolled out. We're spending a record $249.8 billion over the next 10 years on schools and we've cleaned up Labor's 27 'special deals' that saw students getting less funding in one state than in another. In terms of national security, Labor neglected our Australian Defence. They did not commission one new naval ship in their whole time in office. We have 53 vessels either under construction or under design, and that is because we are determined to keep Australia safe and we are able to pay for it because of the stronger economy that delivers stronger government revenues, and enables us, in addition to doing all that, to bring the budget back into balance a year early.

The alternative that Labor offers us is an abandonment of every principle and value the Labor Party used to stand for. The Labor Party used to stand for aspiration. Not anymore. It's a mystery. They used to stand for people getting ahead and having a go. Not anymore. We have the politics of envy being rolled out in every electorate around the country. Labor is going after small businesses, family owned businesses. It's going after businesses—no matter how small they are, it wants them to pay more tax. It's going after individual taxpayers. It's going after retirees. I heard the Leader of the Opposition talk about self-funded retirees. Well, the Leader of the Opposition is going after their savings. Anyone with a portfolio with Australian shares in it—that type of investor or self-funded retiree—the Labor Party wants to take away 30 per cent of their income. It is a cash grab that will leave all of those families short. That's the Labor approach: going after families, going after self-funded retirees and going after businesses. And their energy policies can have only one result, which is higher and higher energy prices.

We are taking action to defend Australian families, get taxes down, electricity prices down, jobs up and investment up—the energetic economic growth that we need which results in higher wages, as we're starting to see. That's our commitment. We're standing up for Australian families, and for the Australian workers that the Leader of the Opposition abandoned in his union career and now abandons in this chamber.