Matter of Public Importance – Labor’s Six Years of Failure
Date : Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:30:00 +1100
It was the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, who said ‘You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.’
That is what explains the result in the 2013 election, because the fraud and the failure that is today's Labor Party saw them get the worst defeat in the history of our federation, the lowest primary vote in 100 years—worse than Scullin in 1931, worse than Whitlam in 1975, worse than Keating in 1996. What explained that result The debt and deficit disaster of the Labor Government—the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd experiment. They saddled the Australian people with 667 billion worth of debt—25,000 for every man, woman and child; an interest bill of 1 billion a month and climbing to 3 billion a month. This is despite the member for Lilley standing at this dispatch box claiming that he was announcing four years of surpluses.
It is that fiscal record that saw 21,000 cheques of 900 sent to dead people; that saw 21,000 additional regulations strangle small business; that saw 400,000 jobs lost in small business; that saw free trade agreements stay on the side bench not being concluded by a government that did not care about the trading opportunities in our region; that gave us a carbon tax that nobody asked for and nobody wanted; that gave us a mining tax that was projected to produce 49.5 billion worth of revenue but it only produced a few hundred million dollars of revenue and introduced the dark spectre of sovereign risk.
Of course the member from Maribyrnong raises the issue of Defence. The record of those opposite on Defence is second to none in being derelict in their duties to protect the Australian people. In fact Defence spending went down to its lowest level since 1938 at 1.56 per cent of GDP. What about the NBN The NBN that started out as a 4.7 billion federal commitment to be signed on the back of a coaster when Senator Conroy had to hop on a plane with Kevin Rudd just to get a minute of his time.
In six years of Labor, we saw a rollout that did not even reach three per cent of Australians.
That is the record 21,000 cheques to dead people; 21,000 additional regulations; a carbon tax and a mining tax; hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in small business; the IMF, the Parliamentary Budget Office and the Commission of Audit saying to us that we cannot continue with business as usual; and this ballooning, growing budget deficit and its associated debt—the intergenerational theft that the Prime Minister talks about. Today's children will be paying off Labor's debt of yesterday.
There is what is called a Burkean compact. It is a 'partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, and those who are dead, and those who are to be born'. Labor effectively broke that compact through its fiscal mismanagement.
We are today debating not just our record in government but also the legacy of debt and deficit that Labor left us. I was at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry dinner last night when the chairman got up and said that, by any fair benchmark, the Abbott Government has achieved much in its first year. Let us start with the free trade agreements with Korea, Japan and China—which the Labor Party failed to conclude because it is beholden to vested interests.
We are proud of the fact that we are getting access to the markets of these huge economies. China has 1.2 billion people, is moving 10 million people from its regions to its cities every year, has more than 90 cities with more than five million people, and already has more fast rail and autobahns than the entire European Union. We now have access to that market that every other western nation dreams of having. We already have two-way trade of 150 billion with China and that will go from strength to strength under this free trade agreement. The agreement gets rid of tariffs on many of our resources. The tariff on coking coal, for example, goes immediately, while the tariff on thermal coal will go over the next couple of years. We have ensured that our agriculture, whether it is beef, dairy or horticulture—mangoes, potatoes and nuts—will get straight access into the Chinese market. And what about services Services make up 70 per cent of today's Australian economy but only 17 per cent of our exports. Now we will get into the Chinese market, a massively growing and lucrative market, because of the work that Andrew Robb and the Prime Minister have done to get that free trade agreement.
What about the success of the G20 The Leader of the Opposition referred to the G20. It was a golden period, the Golden Medina for Australian foreign and economic policy. Eighty-five per cent of the world's GDP was represented here in Australia, as well as 75 per cent of the world's trade and two-thirds of the world's population. Concrete agreements were reached, including a commitment to an extra two per cent growth which, when implemented, will create trillions of additional dollars for the world economy and millions of jobs for Australians and for others around the world.
What about the Infrastructure Hub that will be established in Sydney We will bring together information about the pricing, construction and prioritisation of infrastructure projects. What about the discussion on tax and the proper treatment of multinationals What about shadow banking and over-the-counter derivatives—and what about trade and rebooting the multilateral trade round Bilateral trade agreements are only insurance for when multilateral trade liberalisation stalls. That is what was agreed in Brisbane; that is what our Prime Minister, together with the Treasurer, led from the front on; and that is why we are very proud of our record.
What about what we are doing to get rid of red tape We have announced more than 2 billion worth of savings after the Labor Party gave us an additional 21,000 regulations. What about infrastructure What about the East West Link, which is going to produce 7,000 jobs in Victoria What about WestConnex in New South Wales What about the decision to build a second airport at Badgerys Creek—after fifty years, half a century, of indecision That is something the member for McMahon and his side could never have achieved, but we on this side have achieved it.
What about the hard, hard task of budget repair It has only been given to us because Labor could never do it. Through our budget announcements, we are trying to ensure 300 billion worth of fiscal consolidation over the next decade. We are trying to introduce an earn-or-learn strategy. With our medical research fund, we are trying to boost innovation and entrepreneurship in this country. We want to create the jobs of tomorrow, not just the jobs of today. We want to unshackle small business—through, for example, our decision to ensure that nearly half a million small businesses do not have to participate in the PAYG system. We are removing that red tape. More than 40,000 small businesses will no longer have to complete a BAS—because they are not paying any GST.
Those are just some of the measures we have announced.
We have a forward-looking agenda. Our federalism white paper will be aimed at making the federal-state compact work much more effectively, and the Prime Minister has already reinvigorated COAG. We will be doing a tax white paper. Ken Henry came up with a number of good ideas, but the Labor Party only picked one—and that was the disastrous mining tax. He found that there were 125 taxes in Australia and that 115 of those taxes were producing just 10 per cent of the revenue—10 taxes were producing 90 per cent of the revenue—so there is a lot we can do there. Then there is the Harper review into competition policy. That is extremely important. It is going to give us a way forward to boost competition, to boost jobs and to boost growth in this country. In addition, the Commission of Audit has given us a blueprint for the consolidation of government entities and the like.
We are so proud of what we have done in just one year, but it is only the start. I know that the next speakers the member for Bennelong, the member for Robertson, the member for Mallee and the member for Reid are just as proud of what we have achieved.