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Monday, 22 October 2018
Page: 10681


Ms McBRIDE (Dobell) (18:24): I'm not sure who's under delusions here, but this motion contains three false premises: firstly, that this government's measures have led to a stronger economy; secondly, that under this government essential services are guaranteed, including education, child care, health and aged care; and lastly, I refute the member's claim. Labor does have a plan to build a stronger economy, one that works for all of us. Let's have a look at the first of these.

The fact is that our economy is growing despite the current policy settings, not because of them. This government is lucky enough to benefit from the best global economic conditions in more than a decade, and yet net debt has doubled since September 2013. Gross debt has crashed through half a trillion dollars for the first time in the nation's history and is projected to remain above the threshold over the next decade, and both net and gross debt have been growing faster under this government than under the former Labor government, which had the global financial crisis to contend with. Our economy would be stronger if we didn't have an unstable, divided government—a government that gives the biggest tax breaks to those who need them least, ripping money out of education and aged care and destroying the NBN.

Now let's have a look at just how well this government guarantees essential services and supports education, child care, health and aged care. In fact, this government's record is just a long list of cuts and failures. I have often spoken about the government's cuts to education: cuts to school funding, cuts to university funding and cuts to vocational education. I've spoken about the large number of Australians who have had to put off visits to the doctor or filling a prescription because they simply cannot afford it. I have spoken many times about the increasingly long waiting lists for home care packages for older Australians who want to keep living in their own homes. Currently, there are 774 people waiting for home care packages on the Central Coast, with two-thirds waiting for high-level packages. That's not good enough. Many of them are living with dementia. So how can this government claim that it guarantees these essential services?

Finally, let's turn to the false claim about Labor's economic plans. No-one understands better than Labor the importance of economic growth and its role in improving the lives of everyday Australians. Economic growth was at the heart of the Hawke-Keating reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, and it was Labor that kept Australia out of recession and maintained economic growth in the face of the GFC, the worst economic crisis in 70 years. These reforms and Labor policy initiatives have underpinned nearly three decades of recession-free growth, and this focus on economic growth will continue under a future Labor government.

Labor will deliver the same tax relief for small businesses as the coalition but will do it without cutting schools or hospitals or increasing national debt. Supporting this measure provides certainty to small businesses ahead of the next election. A Labor government will deliver tax cuts for small and medium businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million a year, delivering certainty to the sector in a fiscally responsible way.

Labor has worked hard in opposition to develop a policy program that will boost investment. Whilst delaying the introduction of the Australian investment guarantee by one year in order to responsibly fund the tax cuts for small and medium business, Labor remains committed to the AIG. This important initiative will allow all businesses—small, medium and large—to immediately deduct 20 per cent of any new tangible and, increasingly importantly, intangible assets, with the balance depreciated in line with normal depreciation schedules for the first year. Our future Asia framework aims to deepen and broaden our economic engagement with our region. Most importantly, Labor will invest in human capital, the most important driver of economic growth in the modern economy. Labor has recently announced a $1.75 billion investment in early childhood education. A new national preschool and kindy program will guarantee that every three- and four-year-old has access to quality early childhood education they need for the best start in life and in school. This investment adds to our $14 billion investment that will transform public schools across Australia, giving all children the opportunity to reach their full potential no matter where they live or how much their parents earn. Our policies to boost skills include our commitment to reinvigorate our TAFE system, our comprehensive inquiry into post-secondary education and our commitment to uncapped places at universities.

Labor has taken difficult decisions to be able to fund its policy commitments, such as making multinationals pay their fair share, reforming negative gearing, the capital gains tax discount and the tax treatment of trusts, managing tax affairs, and dividend imputation. Labor will build a strong economy that works for all of us.