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Monday, 11 November 2019
Page: 3409


Senator BILYK (Tasmania) (13:57): The appropriation bills for the annual budget are the most significant pieces of legislation of the year for any government. It's the package of legislation which, more than any other, outlines the vision of the government and makes a strong statement about their values. It is a statement not just of how the government will deal with the day-to-day challenges facing Australia, but also of how they will deal with long-term challenges. At least, that's the statement a budget makes if the government has a vision. But what we see from the Morrison government, this third-term Liberal government, is that they are bereft of any long-term plans.

This is a government facing a stalling economy and a climate emergency, and yet it has no plans to address either. Their heads are in the sand. The Prime Minister, who likes to talk about the Canberra bubble, governs by thought bubble. He and his government come up with harebrained schemes, like using taxpayer funds to build coal-fired power stations. His latest bright idea, stopping consumer boycott campaigns, is unworkable and antidemocratic. It's also just a distraction, filling the void left by a government with no substance and no agenda.

The Morrison government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to turning around Australia's faltering economy. We get lectures every day from Mr Morrison on the importance of running a strong economy and what it can achieve. Mr Morrison will have no disagreement from those on this side of the chamber about the importance of running a strong economy. But what we don't have from those opposite is any explanation of what they are actually going to do to run a strong economy. They talk about good economic management as if Australians will just take it on faith that that's what they are doing. But Australians are starting to see through this charade.

The government's economic narrative is unravelling by the day. Australia is facing a period of low wage growth. This Liberal government has doubled the net debt, and gross debt has reached half a trillion dollars for the first time in history. The cost of household essentials, private health insurance, electricity and childcare are going through the roof. Household living standards are going backwards—