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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 873


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (13:06): This package of bills is required to ensure that the ordinary functions of government continue for the remainder of the 2018-19 financial year. The bills appropriate a total of around $3.3 billion in the 2018-19 financial year. This amount is already incorporated into the budget bottom line, as presented in the 2018-19 MYEFO. Labor will not block supply.

Despite all their talk about being better economic and fiscal managers, debt is at record highs and growing under the Liberals. Net debt has more than doubled on their watch and is now a record $360 billion, and gross debt has crashed through half a trillion dollars for the first time ever in the country's history—it has reached a record $543.3 billion—all on the coalition's watch. Both kinds of debt have been growing faster under the Liberals, in rosy global conditions, than they did under Labor, which had a global financial crisis to contend with.

Scott Morrison and his Liberals have no-one else to blame but themselves for their record and growing debt. In the last year alone, the Liberals have blown $200 million on political ads to distract from their cuts and chaos and the division and dysfunction that has consumed this rabble of a government. Every week, the government spends $100 million on cash refunds for excess franking credits for people who don't pay any tax—an unsustainable tax loophole that the vast majority of Australians don't access. The budget is a mess, and debt is at record highs because of the Liberals' twisted priorities, including giving unsustainable tax breaks to those who need them least and spraying around hundreds of millions of dollars on political ads. Scott Morrison and the Liberals aren't managing the economy or the budget in the interests of ordinary Australians. Under the Liberals, the economy is not working for all. Everything's going up except people's wages.

A strong economy needs a stable government. The Liberals are so divided, so dysfunctional, so much of a rabble, that they can't manage themselves. Five years of the Liberals' cuts and chaos have damaged the economy. Under the Liberals, wages growth is the slowest on record, childcare costs are up 24 per cent, power bills are up 15 per cent and private healthcare costs are up 30 per cent. Company profits are growing six times faster than wages. Can you believe it—profits going up six times faster than wages? Around 1.8 million Australians are underemployed, meaning they can't find enough hours at work. Living standards are stagnating and household debt is at record highs. The Liberals' only plan has been cuts to Medicare, cuts to schools and massive tax cuts to the banks.

Labor has a plan to give all Australians a fair go, not just the banks and the top end of town. We will pay for our plan by making multinationals pay their fair share of tax, closing loopholes mostly used by the top end of town and not giving the big banks a tax cut. We have a Fair Go Action Plan to fix our schools and hospitals, ease pressure on household budgets, stand up for workers, invest in cheaper, cleaner energy and build a strong economy that works for all. Our Fair Go Action Plan fixes schools and hospitals, delivers bigger tax cuts for workers and puts money back into the pockets of everyday Australians. That's good for the whole economy. Labor has led the way when it comes to budget repair, and we will continue to display the fiscal and economic leadership the government has been incapable of.

The budget that the coalition brought down last night fails to reverse cuts to schools and hospitals, and fails to reverse cuts to TAFE and apprenticeships. In the past six years, the Liberals have cut $3 billion from TAFE and skills, and cut 150,000 apprenticeship places. They promise a surplus that is subsidised by short-changing people with disability through a massive underspend in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The budget also confirms that the economy is not working for everyday Australians—everything is going up except wages. Wages growth has again been cut. Economic growth is slowing, downgraded from MYEFO. Household consumption is down, downgraded from MYEFO. The budget confirms that net debt has more than doubled under the Liberals' watch. That's nearly $15,000 for every person in Australia. After doubling the debt, their promise to pay it down is laughable. Look, the Liberals will say anything over the next six weeks to cover up for six years of cuts and chaos.

Labor will support the tax cuts that begin on 1 July for working and middle-class people. This is essentially a copy of what we proposed last year, and they are simply catching us up. A Shorten Labor government—through our Fair Go Action Plan—will fix our schools and hospitals, ease pressure on family budgets, stand up for workers, invest in cheaper, cleaner energy and build a strong economy that works for all of us. We will pay for it by making multinationals pay their fair share of tax and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.

Bill Shorten and Labor will deliver a fair go for all Australians, not just the top end of town. And the sooner Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister, calls an election, the better, because the sooner we will get this rabble of a government off the government benches and into opposition.