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Thursday, 3 September 2020
Page: 6648

Mr BRIAN MITCHELL (Lyons) (11:49): Yesterday, the great lie of Australian politics was exposed, stripped bare, laid naked, and that great lie is that the Liberals are better economic managers. The party of 'jobs and growth', the party of 'a stronger economy', the party that campaigned on 'back in black' has given Australia its first recession in 29 years. The situation in Tasmania is that public capital investment fell by 8.4 per cent in the June quarter, when nationally it went up one per cent. This shows that infrastructure spending in Tasmania is woefully inadequate after seven years of incompetent Liberal management at both federal and state levels.

What do industry people say? 'It's horrific and a very bleak 12 months ahead.' That's how Luke Martin from the Tourism Industry Council referred to yesterday's economic figures. We have the first recession in 29 years and one million Australians unemployed for the first time ever, under this Liberal government. Some 400,000 more Australians are expected to join them by Christmas, under this Liberal government. Hundreds of thousands of Australians have simply given up looking for work and aren't even on the books, under this Liberal government. One million Australians have lost their jobs and yet Richard Colbeck has kept his. What an absolute disgrace. JobKeeper works, but only for some.

This recession will be deeper and longer because of underlying weaknesses after seven years of incompetent and lazy Liberal management. They can't put it all down to the pandemic. There were underlying issues before COVID was even on the scene—slowing growth, stagnant wages, business investment going backwards, flatlining productivity, record household debt, record public debt and no energy policy after seven years of government.

Errors and incompetence since COVID came along will make the recession worse than it should be. The government were too slow to embrace JobKeeper. It was a Labor and union initiative that the Prime Minister had to be convinced to embrace. When he did, it was too limited. Too many are being left behind. Now they are being too quick to withdraw. Their instincts are all wrong. They've got no plans to replace the supports. Seahorse World Managing Director Craig Hawkins was quoted in The Examiner today as saying, 'When JobKeeper is gone, it makes it uneconomic to have extra staff on.' That will be the cost. When JobKeeper goes, we will see the unemployment queues get longer.

This government confuses an announcement with action. They think a slogan is the same as a solution. Their signature plans, like HomeBuilder, have been a farce. There's no public housing and no rebuilding of bushfire communities. They have gutted superannuation. They have privatised the pandemic. They have put the economic burden of this pandemic onto the shoulders of working families. They should stand condemned for it.