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Tuesday, 30 July 2019
Page: 1128


Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South Wales) (15:16): I rise to respond to some of the comments that have been made and in particular to some of the comments that Senator Kitching has made in relation to the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia, the HILDA, survey. Can I remind those opposite that since the election we have delivered on our promise to build a better tax system and provide more tax relief to hardworking Australians. Not only have we delivered immediate tax relief for more than 10 million Australians but we've also provided structural reform that tackles the thief of bracket creep. That is good for the economy, for jobs and for confidence. And we have been focused on job creation. As Senator Cash reminded the Senate earlier, more than 1.3 million jobs have been created since we were elected, which is about 240,000 jobs a year, compared to just over 150,000 on average during the time when those opposite were in government.

We know the HILDA survey is a longitudinal study of Australian households, and it's been following the same households and individuals every year since 2011. There are some very important points that have come out of this year's survey. It shows that employment has picked up, especially for women. It's at the highest level ever since the survey. When you drill down into the survey, it shows that the female workforce participation is also at a record high, and so is participation of those aged 65 and over. More than 100,000 young Australians got a job in 2017, and this is the best financial year result on record.

This survey shows little net change in income inequality. It also finds that reliance on welfare is substantially lower. Indeed, under the coalition, welfare payments, as a share of the working age population, are the lowest in a generation. It shows that the proportion of the population below the relative poverty lines has fluctuated over time, but in broad terms it is trending downwards. This is especially true since 2017 when over 12 per cent of the population was in relative poverty and by 2016 the proportion in poverty had fallen to 9.6 per cent.

It's quite hypocritical of those opposite to come in here. Senator Seselja reminded us of the record of those opposite. Those opposite can't quite accept that they lost the election. Why did they lose the election? They lost the election because the population rejected the dud policies of those opposite. They went to the election on a negative gearing policy, where you were asserting that ordinary Australians on $85,000 were somehow the top end of town—the classic Labor class warfare—and on franking credits, when you were going out there to hit hardworking retirees, and on assaulting the coal industry. No wonder that in New South Wales the swing against Joel Fitzgibbon was the largest in the state—almost 10 per cent. It was because of what you were doing.

Of course there were the quiet Australians, that silent majority. They rejected your policies. They remembered the six years of fiscal vandalism when you were last sitting on the Treasury benches. They were not prepared to give you the Treasury benches again, because of what you were proposing. One only has to look at what Senator Seselja referred to as 'the disasters'. Let's look at some of those disasters. In some seats, you had swings of five to 10 per cent. Hello! Does that not tell you something? Does that not tell you that the recipe that you were offering the Australian public was the wrong one? That's why they voted to return the coalition to government.