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Thursday, 7 December 2017
Page: 10064

Turnbull Government

Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:00): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. When asked on Sunday how he intends to turn around 25 consecutive Newspoll losses, leaks from cabinet and backflips at the behest of backbenchers, Mr Turnbull said, 'But, you know, next year we've got the National Energy Guarantee to finally complete and implement.' Given Mr Turnbull has so far this year floated and scrapped an emissions intensity scheme and a clean energy target and still hasn't got agreement on his latest proposal, the National Energy Guarantee, why should the Australian people believe Mr Turnbull's scorecard next year will be any better than this year's?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:00): Senator Wong, I'm bound to say you do disappoint me. Here we are in the last question time of the year, and you'd think we could have had something a little bit more substantial. Given the festive season and the news from the House of Representatives later today that you and I are both looking forward to, I'm not going to chastise you too strongly, but I must observe that, if the best you can do for the very first question in the very last question time of the year is to ask yet another tricky political question, I'm disappointed with you.

But your question does give me the opportunity to reflect upon all of the great achievements of the Turnbull government in 2017, which will be continuing in 2018. We've only recently had the September quarter national accounts, which show that GDP grew by 0.6 per cent in the September quarter. It has grown over the last 12 months by 2.8 per cent—a very, very strong rate of growth. We also have the labour market statistics, which show that, in the last 12 months, 355,000 new jobs were created—almost a thousand new jobs a day—and, of those, 85 per cent were full-time jobs. That is the fastest rate of jobs creation in more than 20 years—another achievement of the Turnbull government.

Senator Wong, you talked also about the National Energy Guarantee. Absolutely, we are very proud of the National Energy Guarantee. For more than a decade, including in this place, Australian energy policy has been deadlocked. It has been deadlocked, and now there has been a breakthrough, thanks to Prime Minister Turnbull. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, a supplementary question?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:03): The Prime Minister, in the same interview, also said, 'We've talked about further taxation reform.' Which of his failed tax reforms is Mr Turnbull planning to reheat? Will it be allowing states to collect income tax or will it be increasing the GST? Or will he just stick with his proposal from this year's budget to increase taxes on working and middle-class Australians?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:03): You're asking about the government's tax reform agenda. I'm delighted to tell you about it. Do you mean to give me an early Christmas present today with these easy questions? I must be grateful to you, Senator Wong. There is the enterprise tax plan, the first instalment of which has already been introduced by the Turnbull government again, and we will be prosecuting the rest of the enterprise tax plan next year and in the years to come so as to give small to medium enterprises the capital to put on more staff, to pay them better wages, to return more to investors. That is the benefit of the enterprise tax plan. And you wonder why there have been all those extra jobs created in the last 12 months—more new jobs than in any year for more than 20 years. It might have something to do with the capacity of small to medium enterprises to put on more staff. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, a final supplementary question?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:04): When announcing he would challenge former Prime Minister Abbott, Mr Turnbull said:

We have lost 30 Newspolls in a row. It is clear that the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott's leadership.

After losing 24 Newspolls in a row, isn't it clear that people have also made up their mind about Mr Turnbull's leadership?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:04): Well, Senator Wong, there are other more important metrics by which this government will be judged, and the most important metrics by which this government will be judged is what this government has done to make life better for the Australian people. I mentioned in answer to your earlier question the fact that, for every day in the last year, there have been, on average, almost 1,000 new jobs created in the Australian economy—85 per cent of them full-time jobs. That's 1,000 families who were apprehensive about the future, who were poor, who didn't know what the future held, and now their breadwinners have a job. That's good news for the Australian people, Senator Wong.

You ask about other metrics, Senator Wong. I quoted to you before the very strong economic growth—2.8 per cent in the last year, Senator Wong—which again is the indicator of the success of this government— (Time expired)

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left! There will be an opportunity, I'm sure, for that later. It is the opposition's time, question time. I'll call Senator Smith when I can hear him. Senator Smith.