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Thursday, 1 August 2019
Page: 1857


Dr LEIGH (Fenner) (16:14): Twenty years ago, David Dunning and Justin Kruger published a seminal study showing that incompetent people are peculiarly unaware of their own incompetence. They drew on the example of McArthur Wheeler who, starting from the premise that lemon juice can be used as invisible ink, covered his face with lemon juice and went in to rob his local bank, thinking it would make him invisible.

The Dunning-Kruger effect could have been designed for this frontbench. We have a Minister for Health who gives an MRI licence to the vice-president of the South Australian Liberal Party and says no to 443 other applications. We have a minister for families who pats herself on the back for the 'generous amount of money' that pensioners get. We have an assistant minister for homelessness who wants to put a 'positive spin' on homelessness, rather than doing anything about the problem. We have an Assistant Treasurer who knows nothing about tax havens, yet persists with the mistruth that we on this side of the House voted against the multinational anti-avoidance law. We have a minister for energy who won't admit that emissions are up. As John Hewson said today:

It seems the new Morrison government has learned nothing, doesn’t want to learn anything, just wants to kick the climate emergency further down the road, hoping nothing of consequence happens on its watch.

Further proving his susceptibility to the Dunning-Kruger effect, the minister for energy won't admit that power prices are rising—up 158 per cent in wholesale terms since 2015. We would call him 'all tip and no iceberg', but, under his policies, icebergs will melt away faster than the leadership hopes of the member for Dickson. We've got a Prime Minister who won't listen to ACOSS, to the Business Council of Australia or even to John Howard to increase Newstart, calling it 'unfunded empathy'. And we have a Treasurer who thinks Australians have never had it so good, even as we're in the ninth month of a per capita recession. What does the Morrison government stand for? It's a bigger question than: what was the member for Fadden downloading when he racked up that $38,000 internet bill? We learned today that the number of Australians working four or more jobs has doubled over the last year, yet those opposite are flat out doing one job—just doing the job that they were elected to do.

The Morrison government is the dog that caught the car. We know about as much about their plans for Australia as we do about that mysterious bloke from Yass that the member for Hume was chatting to, or why it is that a company called Eastern Australian Agriculture had to be set up 16,000 kilometres east of Australia, in the Cayman Islands. It is harder to find a Morrison government policy that is in the interests of Australians than it is to find intact endangered grasslands on a property owned by the member for Hume. The fact is, when you're talking about the interests of all Australians, that includes racial and ethnic minorities. It is no surprise that the very same Prime Minister who, in 2011, urged his colleagues to capitalise on the electorate's concerns over Muslims in Australia is now comfortable with allowing into Australia Raheem Kassam, who spreads hate speech about Muslims, about women and about LGBT+ people, and that that same Prime Minister is also comfortable with letting Liberals share the stage with Raheem Kassam.

The fact is that this is a government which is presiding over a floundering economy, where net debt has more than doubled. We've got the slowest economic growth since the global financial crisis and the longest per capita recession since the early 1980s, with stagnant wages now going up eight times more slowly than profits. Unemployment is a full percentage point higher than in Britain, the United States, New Zealand or Germany, with productivity growth running at a 10th of its historical average, and retail sales, engineering and construction, and new home starts down. And we're seeing appalling figures from the latest HILDA survey, suggesting that, adjusting for inflation, Australians are poorer now than when the Liberals came to office.