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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 157


Mr SUKKAR (Deakin) (15:50): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and congratulations on your elevation. To the shadow Treasurer: your stocks have dropped massively. Why are you still on the opposition benches? Because you did not outline an economic vision for this country. You outlined a vision for higher taxes and for bigger government, and that was it. You were a failed Treasurer the first time and now you are a failed shadow Treasurer.

This government has one central goal in this term of parliament: to get our budget back under control. That is the main game in town, the main game for this economy and the main game for this government. The main game for every government around this country at a state and obviously at a federal level is to get our house in order. Everything the Labor Party does is to increase the debt and the deficit. We all know that when the Labor Party came into office in 2007 they inherited about $80 billion in assets. They squandered that very, very quickly and we ended up with a trajectory of $667 billion of debt.

We hear of black holes from the shadow Treasurer. We all know the infamous Bowen black hole of well over $18 billion between the time of the 2013 election and the budget—$18 billion! What did the shadow Treasurer do at the last election? He outlined a vision for $16 billion in higher deficits over the forward estimates—$16 billion! How is that addressing the key economic issue facing this country that government can control: reining in our own spending? There is no interest group, no constituency, that the Labor Party do not think they can buy off with more taxpayer dollars. That is the issue facing this country, and until the Labor Party face up to the facts they will continue to sit on the opposition benches.

They look very happy. The shadow Treasurer in his big, shouty voice gets up looking very triumphant. His stocks have dropped, I can tell you right now, because they are on the opposition benches because of the shadow Treasurer's failure to outline any vision. The Australian people do not trust the Labor Party with the economy, so the fact that they would raise this in the MPI today is quite extraordinary.

We have a huge agenda this week. Industrial relations reform, bringing back the ABCC, the registered organisations bill—these things are not particularly sexy but they provide productivity benefits for our economy in one of the largest sectors. In the construction industry we employ over a million Australians. Every single Australian who uses a bridge, a road, a hospital—something that is constructed through this industry—will benefit from the increased productivity that the ABCC will deliver. These are things that government can do. These are economic reforms.

What would the Labor Party do? They would go through this faux process of looking into the ABCC, but we know that John Setka and all of the others in the union movement will never let them support the ABCC. They will never let them support anything that removes the perks and lurks for the union movement. And who pays for it? The average Australian pays for it. Our economy pays for it.

Our economy is growing at above three per cent at the moment—above-trend growth. On the most important measure of our economy, GDP growth, we are growing above trend. That is something we have arrested from the point at which Labor left office, when there was below-trend growth and it was dropping. Now we are above three per cent. We are seeking to address the main challenge that faces our government and every government around this country, which is getting our own house in order. I know that for the next three years—hopefully it will be for a lot longer—the Labor Party will block us every single step of the way, because there is no dollar that they do not want to spend, there is no interest group that they will not say no to, and, as I said at the beginning, there is no constituency that they will not seek to buy off with taxpayer dollars because—guess what!—they will not be the ones held accountable. We will be the ones who have to pick up the pieces and pay off the debt.

There is a truism in Australian politics, which is this: you must elect a coalition government if you want to get the fiscal house of the federal government in order. That is what this government will do. That is the leadership that our Prime Minister is showing, and I am standing squarely behind our Prime Minister in achieving that goal.