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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 2546

Senator ABETZ (Tasmania) (15:12): When the Labor Party try to talk serious economics, as they have been desperately trying to do today, who do they seek to rely on? Is it former Treasurer Wayne Swan? Never. Is it former Labor Treasurer Paul Keating? Never. Who do they have to fall back on to try to get some credibility into their narrative? It is none other than former Treasurer Peter Costello, a person whose budgets were opposed, criticised and condemned year after year by the Australian Labor Party. They now come into this place, only quoting half of what Mr Costello says, pretending to champion that which he has quite rightly pointed out—that is, that Australia does have a debt burden. It is a debt burden that we inherited from the Australian Labor Party, with a trajectory of debt that was baked into projections and legislation, deliberately so, by the Labor-Greens minority government. Let's make no mistake, and our fellow Australians need to know this: but for the Abbott-Turnbull government taking action in relation to the trajectory, today's debt would not be the figure asserted by Senator Farrell but would be $1 trillion, about three times as high. Let's make no mistake about that. We have sought to bring down that trajectory of debt which is a terrible burden on the next generation. It is a legacy that Labor will need to wear around its neck for generations to come.

But let's also be very clear: in the 2013 election, Labor asserted to the Australian people that they were going to be good economic managers. They proposed $5 billion worth of cuts, which we accepted on a bipartisan basis. So everybody who voted Labor, Liberal or Nationals voted for $5 billion worth of cuts to expenditure. At the very first attempts for these cuts to be implemented, and ever since, what did the Australian Labor Party do? It deliberately spiked the government's agenda—and, indeed, its own agenda—by hypocritically voting against Labor Party policy in this place to ensure that we could not rein in the budget deficit and the debt as we wanted to, and as Labor themselves solemnly promised to the Australian people.

Now, in the short time available let's deal with this nonsense about company tax cuts. If they are interested in quoting previous ministers, I would draw their attention to previous minister, Senator Wong; previous minister, Bill Shorten; previous minister, Chris Bowen; and would-be minister, Dr Andrew Leigh—a whole host of Labor Party luminaries who have said time and time again that the way that you increase employment and, indeed, increase wages, is to engage in company tax cuts. That was Labor policy and Labor narrative, and they know it to be the truth, and yet, sadly, they come into this place with cheap politics, willing people to remain unemployed and to remain on lower wages by denying company tax cuts.

The simple fact is that company tax cuts do translate into lower cost items and higher wages, and that, of course, increases the budget capacity of the families of our fellow Australians. The Labor Party knew that; the Liberal Party knows that. Labor tries to implement it; we support them. We seek another tranche—what do Labor do? Hypocritically oppose it, like they opposed their own budget cuts in this place. The only true economic managers are the coalition. (Time expired)