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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7642


Senator TROETH (3:22 PM) —I rise to speak on the motion to take note of the answers given in question time today by Senator Conroy, particularly about interest rates. I would like to point out to Senator Pratt that Australia is the first G20 country to resume increasing interest rates following the global financial crisis. Interest rates which have been low are now on the march again due almost entirely to Mr Rudd’s and Labor’s mismanagement of the economy. We need look no further than Mr Rudd’s five-point plan to fight inflation to see why rates are on the rise and how he has failed not just the opposition’s test or the financial market’s test but his own test.

Point 1 of the plan is a target surplus of 1.5 per cent of GDP. That is a fail. From inheriting a surplus of over $20 billion, Mr Rudd recklessly drove this country into a record deficit of $43 billion to splash out on school halls and everyone’s plasma TVs—made overseas, of course.

Point 2 is:

… a range of policy options concerning, how do we boost national savings and how do we encourage a broader national savings culture in Australia.

I regret to say that this is another fail. National savings have been decimated, with a record government debt level of $300 billion. That is a record deficit. Mr Rudd may want to look at his own government’s culture before he starts lecturing people about their spending habits. There has been a complete lack of financial discipline and rigour, with reckless projects such as the National Broadband Network, the so-called schools stimulus, the GROCERYchoice website and the 2020 Summit, not to mention four classrooms that are being knocked down to be replaced by the same four classrooms because the school has no use for the money. Things like that are putting enormous upward pressure on interest rates.

Point 3 is:

… to act decisively and effectively on the skills crisis.

That is presumably to be done by closing Australian technical colleges. That is an obvious fail. It is another sop to the union movement that costs young Australians the opportunity to learn a trade and secure a job.

Point 4 is:

… to deal effectively—

these are Mr Rudd’s own words—

with a challenge of public infrastructure and infrastructure bottlenecks which exist across the economy and are creating capacity constraints.

With the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government coming from New South Wales Labor, we do not have high hopes. Let us face it: Labor’s record on infrastructure falls over faster than New South Wales Labor premiers, and this minister seems more concerned with what John Howard is doing with rugby in his retirement than anything to do with his own portfolio. Talk about being obsessed with the wrong priorities. Water, power, roads and tolls have all proven too difficult for state Labor governments to deal with, and our cities are parched and gridlocked as a result. We will give them only a partial fail on this point because the federal government have not actually done anything yet, apart from building some apparently desperately needed school halls in schools that were to be demolished anyway. But the signs are not good.

His last point, point 5, is:

… to act also with a clear pathway to the future on how do we boost, effectively, workforce participation.

In other words, how do they put more people into jobs in the future? To that I say, ‘If you want more people in jobs in the future, don’t vote red in 2010.’

Question agreed to.