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Wednesday, 4 March 2020
Page: 2565


Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (15:31): The thing that the people of Australia have learnt about this Prime Minister is this: if you can't trust him to tell the truth about the little things then how on earth are you going to trust him to tell the truth about the things that really matter? Time and time and time again this guy has failed that test. Now, I am not being critical of the fact that last year the Prime Minister took a holiday. I'm not critical about that. But why did he have to lie about it? Why couldn't he tell the truth about where he was? Why couldn't he tell the truth?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Llew O'Brien ): The member—

Mr STEPHEN JONES: I withdraw. Why couldn't he tell the truth about where he was? Why did he have to dissemble? Why did he have to mislead people? Why couldn't he tell the truth? I make no criticism of the fact that the Prime Minister might like to invite friends to the White House for a special dinner. I make no criticism of that. But why on earth could he not tell the truth? He was asked time and time and time again: did he do it? But he couldn't tell the truth. He couldn't tell the truth. We're seeing it again with the sports rorts affair. He's been asked time and again: what was his office's involvement in the sports rorts affair? If you can't tell the truth about the small things, how on earth are the people of Australia going to trust you about making the big calls on the things that really matter? He promised us a surplus. He told us we were 'back in black', and now we know that he won't meet that promise.

We have learnt that this Prime Minister likes to make big promises and likes to talk a lot about plans. The previous speaker had a lot to say about plans. They're very good at talking about plans, but they're hopeless—absolutely hopeless—at delivering on them. They had a plan for a surplus that turned into a marketing plan for coffee cups and T-shirts. They won't meet it, and they know it. They had a plan to look after the bushfire communities of the South Coast of New South Wales. The Prime Minister missed the first chance, stood in this place and said: 'We've got a plan to look after them. We're going to look after the recovery. We're going to look after the clean-up of the devastation. We're going to look after the businesses that have been affected.' But now we know that less than 10 per cent of the notional fund that's been set aside has been spent. We have heard time and time again about their plans for energy. Well, they've had plenty of energy plans. They've had 19 of them! Unfortunately, power prices are still going up and so are emissions. So, when these people talk about plans, you know one thing: they will never meet them.

Now the Treasurer and the Prime Minister are trying to tell us that we've never had it so good and that the economy is going great guns. The test for the strength of this economy is not what this Treasurer or this Prime Minister is saying about it; it's what business is actually doing. It has never been easier for a business to invest. It's never been cheaper for a business to get access to capital. Interest rates have never been lower. Wages—tragically—are very, very low as well. Wage growth is as flat as it's ever been. Interest rates, inflation—all low. It's never been easier for businesses to invest. But what's happening with business investment? It's down 1.4 per cent over the year and 20 per cent since they got into government. Don't listen to what that mob is saying about the economy; look at what business are doing. If business had any confidence whatsoever in that mob's ability to manage the economy, they'd be investing. It's never been easier to invest, there's never been a better time to invest—but they have no confidence that that mob is going to manage the economy in the interests of business. And they know that, if they cannot trust the government on the little things, they certainly cannot trust them on the big calls.

Now, tragically, we've got some big calls to make, and we are calling on the government to act and to act now. We cannot wait, because, every week that they delay, the economy goes backwards. The Australian people need a message from this government. They need a plan from this government, they need it to be implemented, but they're certainly not getting it. The people of my community are demanding some action, and business is demanding some action, and all they're getting from this Treasurer and this Prime Minister is coffee cups and marketing plans. Frankly, the people of Australia deserve much more than that.